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The digital 2025 future of local councils

A new report has documented the key trends that will dictate the way in which local authorities must begin to adapt and transform in the next few years to survive until 2025 and beyond.

Specialist systems and business process services provider Civica (opens in new tab) compiled its The Changing Landscape for Local Government (opens in new tab) document after an in-depth research process.

Besides a roundtable discussion between local authority leaders, a further 80 council leaders and executives across the UK were also questioned.

According to the company, the report paints a detailed picture of what councils will look like in 2025 and examines the cultural and behavioural changes required to successfully implement the required new business models.

The research claims six factors in particular will influence the way councils work by 2025, including the growing population size and people living longer lives.

Citizens are now more connected, mobile, independent and self-serving, as well as much demanding and impatient.

The report also notes that the public is politically disengaged but local engaged, it is divided over data and a lover of local.

“The actions taken by local government over the next two to three years will impact their success by and beyond 2025,” claimed Kim Ryley, chair at SOLACE in Business and former chief executive at Cheshire East Council and Shropshire Council.

“As these results suggest, many organisations are still thinking in the short term and do not have the strategy and funds to significantly transform services.

“We need to make the space, time and resources to innovate and test the ‘new’ model of the future. This requires a loosening of the apron strings from central government and the freedom to make changes and be transparent.

“This will require the right leadership that is willing to be bold and not shy away from risk of failure,” he added.

Technology’s Essential Role

At the heart of the changes that local authorities will need to make is technology.

The Civica research claims that council leaders already see the need for various digital systems and processes such as completely paperless processes and collection of citizen data from all interactions.

Authorities are also seeking secure resident portals, app versions of core services, flexible working supported by mobile devices, community portals for information on government services and multi-channel communication.

“There’s no doubt that local authorities are setting out on a complex and challenging transformation journey which will see them and the services they deliver change dramatically over the next decade,” claimed Civica group business development director Paul Bradbury.

“A more integrated approach to services is needed together with IT-enhanced ways of working which support rapidly shifting end-user demands.

“It may be challenging, but this journey poses an exciting opportunity to radically rethink the way organisations operate for the benefit of the local communities.

“Doing nothing is not an option,” he added.

The Future Model

To prepare for the future, local government is advised by the report to understand the real needs of the community and define clear outcomes.

Authorities must also consider the prototyping of new models, agile transformation, scaling up and shifting out and the development of an innovation taskforce.