Councils awarded £1.3m to digitally improve public services

Local Government Minister Rishi Sunak has announced that almost £1.3 million has been awarded to councils to find solutions for how digital technology can improve services for the public.

The winning applicants, who will receive money from the first round of a £7.5 million fund aimed at harnessing digital technology to improve their work, have a range of projects including chatbots, artificial intelligence and one-stop shop websites.

As such, some 16 projects across the country were awarded grants of up to £100,000, with 57 councils working in teams to shape new digital services and explore the potential of modern technology. Other areas of research include exploring how virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa can improve the lives of people in need of care, giving frontline social workers better access to information to make crucial decisions and improving software used by council planning departments.

A key pillar of the government’s Local Digital Declaration, launched in July, the government’s new Local Digital Collaboration Unit will also work with LocalGov Digital, an organisation made up of people who work on digital solutions in local government, to create a place to see details of all the digital transformation happening in the sector.

Sunak said: “Embracing digital technology can revolutionise public services. Within local government, I firmly believe it has the potential to improve a range of services in a host of different ways. Ultimately, our aim is to make services better for users but it is likely to reduce costs for councils too. This could be by improving the experience of someone in care, streamlining the admin that comes with the stress of moving home, or offering a simpler way to license taxis. And these are just some of the successful ideas which I am delighted to announce government funding for today. I’m excited to see these projects come to fruition.”

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