The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) is ready to support six councils in developing new approaches to digital and cyber security.
It has announced plans to provide up to £750,000 to each and is now taking applications for the support under its new Future Councils programme.
The programme is intended to help the entire council move towards digital working methods and an increased cyber security awareness. DLUHC describes this as a “whole council” approach.
The Local Digital team at DLUHC said in a blogpost that this will “help local government meet the ambitions of the Local Digital Declaration”.
“It will address some of the systemic barriers that make it challenging for councils to sustain digital reform and to become modern, resilient organisations,” the department said.
After an initial pilot with six local authorities, DLUHC said a second and larger number of authorities would be invited to join the programme, adding: “We have seen the growing risk and scale of cyber attacks, with incidents across the country showing that no council is immune from risk."
The pilot of Future Councils will have five areas of focus: cyber security, staff skills, systems and software, digital service user experience and back end processes.
Authorities will be involved in baseline assessments of their current digital and cyber security maturity and then agree on a plan with DLUHC on how to improve and provide evidence of the improvements.
Pilot members will also work towards meeting the Cyber Assessment Framework for Local Government and identify a key service area that can be moved away from legacy technology.
In addition, pilot members will identify cultural barriers to change and create a plan to overcome these and receive training or mentoring.
DLUHC said it would also work with the six authorities to create a cyber incident response plan and how to adopt a relevant Local Digital Fund, a project for six authorities announced earlier in October.
Aiming for diversity
“For the pilot, we are looking for a diverse range of local authorities that can demonstrate their intent to improve and tackle organisational barriers to change,” DLUHC said.
It added that the six pilot members must have the support of key stakeholders in their organisation and can commit staff members to collaborate directly with the Whitehall department “to ensure deliverability within their organisation”.
Applications for Future Councils are now open and will close on Friday, 18 November 2022, at 5:30 pm.