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Industry bodies unite to drive local digital leadership

Public sector leaders urged to be role models of digital innovation across and beyond local government

Senior local leaders should make digital innovation central to their transformation programmes, says four key local government representative bodies.

In a new paper released today, Socitm, Solace, the LGA, and the Local CIO Council jointly call for local leaders to champion digital innovation in their own authorities, as a vital step in building shared services and delivering placed-based policy.

The paper presents compelling case studies of local government and public sector organisations that have used innovative digital approaches to transform various services – all with common outcomes: greater efficiency, improved insights, significant cost savings and better citizen experience.

One such example is that of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, which in a year achieved £1.15 million savings through developing an online self-service area. With a simple, single sign-on, the portal is now a routine port-of-call for 13 key services including council tax, benefits and environmental reporting.

Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council are also highlighted in the paper – for their use of geographical data to optimise refuse collection routes and street cleaning services. In doing so, £300,000 annual savings have been achieved, while the services have been made more efficient and responsive to citizens’ needs.

The paper sets out seven further examples of digital innovation, arguing that such an approach should be a ‘key pillar of the transformation the sector is currently undergoing’.

Digital innovation and local leadership is central to the work of Socitm’s Director of Policy and Research Martin Ferguson, one of the co-authors of the paper. 

He said: ‘Local digital leadership is the cornerstone of public services redesign and transformation. Industrial age services can no longer be sustained to meet rapidly-changing needs. 

‘This paper signals a collaboration between Socitm, Solace, the LGA and the Local CIO Council to promote and build the leadership needed to work, with partners and communities in our diverse localities, on a wholesale rethink about what services can be delivered into the future, who for, and how.’

The paper calls for local leaders to:

  • Champion digital innovation in their own authority by acting as role model in the use of technology, making resources available, and finding space for innovation;
  • Promote digital innovation across the sector, by sharing and promoting their own organisation’s best practice, as well as being open to learning from others and seeing potential for collaboration;
  • Share and collaborate not just across local government, but with central government, the NHS and other bodies too.

Socitm, Solace, the LGA and the Local CIO Council are committed to working together and will be collaborating on a range of practical ‘next steps’, including events, training, and working to promote great examples of local digital innovation.

Local leaders who would like to contribute, or who are interested in any of these events, training or information, should call Socitm on 01604 709456 or by emailing enquiries@socitm.net