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New £7.5m council fund to take digital innovation from ‘basement to boardroom’

The government has announced a £7.5m digital innovation fund to help councils transform their online services.

The fund was announced at the LGA Conference in Birmingham yesterday by local government minister Rishi Sunak.

“Locally, we have to empower local authorities to make decisions for their own area,” Sunak stated.

More than 50 councils, government departments and partner organisations are signed up to the pledge, the ‘Local Digital Declaration.’ The declaration will allow those involved to share their digital innovations across the public sector.

Sunak continued: “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.”

One example of such digital innovation is Chat Health, a service which gives health advice via text to young people from the school nursing service in Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland.

Local authorities will also be able bid for a share of the cash sum to fund digital solutions to common and shared challenges.

A new course will also be developed to train senior local authority staff in digital leadership, and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) will work with councils to help them deliver their commitments.

The announcement comes in light of the Public Accounts Committee report, published yesterday, which accused the MHCLG of being “complacent” and blasted central government for its lack of funding for local authorities.


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