Innovation and changeDigital TransformationLocal Digital Declaration launched

Local Digital Declaration launched

Set of guiding principles that will help all local authorities to deliver digital services and platforms that meet the needs of citizens, has been launched

The Local Digital Declaration, a set of guiding principles that will help support local authorities of all sizes or capabilities to deliver digital services and platforms that meet the needs of citizens, has been launched.

The Local Digital Declaration is a joint initiative from GDS and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). There are more than 30 co-publishers ranging from local authority influencers to central departments.

According to a GDS blog post written by Chris Ferguson, GDS Director for National, International & Research, the declaration talks about what good digital transformation looks like and contains five principles that describe what organisations can do to achieve this.

The principles are:

  • we will go further to redesign our services around the needs of the people using them – this means continuing to prioritise citizen and user needs above professional, organisational and technological silos
  • we will ‘fix our plumbing’ to break our dependence on inflexible and expensive technology that doesn’t join up effectively – this means insisting on modular building blocks for the IT we rely on and open standards to give a common structure to the data we create
  • we will design safe, secure and useful ways of sharing information to build trust among our partners and citizens, to better support the most vulnerable members of our communities and to target our resources more effectively
  • we will demonstrate digital leadership, creating the conditions for genuine organisational transformation to happen and challenge all those we work with to embrace this declaration
  • we will embed an open culture that values, incentivises and expects digital ways of working from every member of our workforce. This means working in the open wherever we can, sharing our plans and experience, working collaboratively with other organisations, and reusing good practice

Over the summer the GDS will be taking the declaration around the country in roadshows and in the autumn all local authorities will have the opportunity to sign up.

Ongoing developments

Before then, the Local Digital website will be developing to include case studies, best practice, templates and other practical tools for local authorities to access. GDS will complement this by providing practical examples, content and links which will provide centralised access for local authorities to GDS tools and services.

The GDS will:

  • make our messaging and payment platforms – UK Notify and GOV.UK Pay – available for local authorities to use
  • raise awareness and offer training in best practice procurement and showcase the Digital Marketplace
  • consult on and rework the Digital Service Standard to be applicable to local authorities
  • make access to Open Standards easier and create a register of Open Standards
  • link GDS Academytraining opportunities to principles of the Local Digital Declaration
  • consult local authorities in the creation of attribute exchange standards

The blog post adds that the GDS has recruited two new regional relationship managers, one based in Leeds and one in Bristol, who will be building relationships in their regions and providing a route to GDS support.

“In the same way that GDS is here to support central government departments in their digital transformation, we want to be here for local authorities too,” says Ferguson. “We want to offer them the support and guidance they need so that, working together, we can make things better for users.”

Sharing innovation

Commenting on the launch, Local Government Minister, Rishi Sunak MP, said: “Whether it’s an app to report fly-tipping, or slick online services to pay your Council Tax, many local authorities are at the forefront of digital innovation.

“But there’s much more to do. Digital doesn’t belong in the basement, it belongs in the boardroom. I want councils and partners across the country to sign up to this declaration. By supporting each other and building on each other’s work we can revolutionise services for our residents.”

While many councils already have excellent online offerings, the digital declaration is about sharing the best innovation across the public sector to benefit people.

For example, the school nursing service in Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland worked with young people to help them get health advice by text – Chat Health. It’s engaging them in ways that suit their lives and preferences and has worked so well it’s now been rolled out to 30 areas and a million people.

As part of the initiative, local authorities across the country will also be able to bid for a share of a new £7.5m innovation fund to help develop common solutions to their shared challenges.

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