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Socitm puts forwards “Local Government Digital Service” idea

Socitm (opens in new tab), the representative body for people in public sector IT, has proposed a “Local Government Digital Service” as an alternative to a LOCALGOV.UK site.

In June, think tank Policy exchange published its Technology Manifesto (opens in new tab) that supported the idea of singular online platform for local councils, similar to central government’s GOV.UK (opens in new tab) website.

However, Socitm was quick to shoot this idea down (opens in new tab), claiming that the idea was “ill-conceived” and full of logistical and expensive complexities.

The organisation has now proposed an alternative (opens in new tab), a “properly funded” local digital service with “much empowered” in-house digital teams.

The proposition is the conclusion of the body’s latest briefing, Collaborating and sharing digital assets: towards a local government digital service?

According to Socitm, relying upon subscription-based membership models such as itself or volunteer groups such as the LocalGov Digital Initiative (opens in new tab) is unlikely to deliver digital transformation at scale within the public sector.

It adds that it is also unrealistic to expect a sector where “there is a history of patchy implementation of digital” with low funding to change its approach without a financial kick-start.

The organisation claims that the central Government Digital Service (GDS (opens in new tab)) has received large amounts of funding and it is this that has created digital transformation at Whitehall.

Proper incentives required to get local government on board

In its briefing, Socitm claims an LGDS, providing it had proper funding and expertise, would reduce waste and duplication and deliver a better online user experience than a LOCALGOV.UK would.

“The sharing of digital assets that meet local requirements and provision of access to a shared source of expertise is a practical, cost-effective way that LGDS could add real value to local digital needs,” the document claims.

“However, the critical point remains that just as local authorities need incentives to participate in the digital programme overall, so LGDS would require funding and resourcing,” it adds.