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Government as a Platform needs to be extended to local services – Socitm

Digital and joined-up government services must be used in local as well as national government, Socitm has said in a new briefing.

Socitm argues that the Local Digital Coalition, established to inherit assets and resources from DCLG’s Local Digital Programme, is well-placed to see how the Government as a Platform initiative could be extended to local services.

Government as a Platform services include GOV.UK Verify, an online system for verifying the identity of public service users which is currently in limited use, and two systems currently in beta; Notify, a means for providers to inform service users of changes in their eligibility, and Pay, for improving payments to departments.

Martin Ferguson, director of policy and research at Socitm, and a member of PSE’s editorial board, said: “From a central-local public service perspective, successful channel shift to online is crucial to achieving savings required by the austerity programme, as well as bringing the full spectrum of public services into the modern digital age.

“Reusability of well-designed, fit-for-purpose service platforms is critical to realising this vision on a big scale. Socitm anticipates that the Local Digital Coalition will play a key role in helping this vision become reality.”

The briefing, ‘The Local Digital Coalition: a key step to the future delivery of joined up and digital local public services’, available to Socitm corporate members and Socitm Insight subscribers, also says that key finance questions need to be settled before Government as a Platform is implemented in local government, including whether local councils and third-sector organisations will be eligible for GDS-subsidised usage allowance.

Other problems it points out include difficulties for children and the elderly gaining verification under GOV.UK Verify and difficulties aligning Verify with local authority citizen’s account registers, Scotland’s and identification based on NHS numbers.

Leigh Whitehouse, joint chief executive at Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, wrote for the Feb/ March edition of PSE about using Government as a Platform in local government.

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