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LGA calls for Local Government Centre for Digital Technology


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Image source: istock.cpom/Iurii Motov

The Local Government Association (LGA) has called for the creation of a Local Government Centre for Digital Technology as part of a series of measures for the UK Government after the general election.

It has published a white paper on the issues, saying there is a need for a reset in the relationship between central and local government.

The paper includes a number of recommendations, including the creation of the centre to support technological innovation for local authorities, and promote inclusive economic growth.

This reflects the re-emergence over recent months of the debate on the possibile creation of a Local Government Digital Service to complement the central government version.

It is understood that the proposed Local Government Centre for Digital Technology would work with councils to provide tailored solutions for their needs and contribute to meeting national priorities. This would involve sharing knowledge, co-creating solutions and promoting innovation.

It could also work on the development of standards and as a representative for local government in national policy discussions.

Governance and funding

The centre would be subject to the oversight of a governance board and be funded by a mixture of a revenue support grant, individual grant funding from government departments and fees from chargeable services.

It would also need to find a focus that complements the work of the Local Digital team in the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Cllr Alex Coley, deputy chair of the LGA’s Improvement and Innovation Board, said: “Local government is constantly innovating, developing new solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing citizens and their communities, including the use of new technology.

“Our white paper calls on whoever forms the next government to establish a Local Government Centre for Digital Technology, which can be used to deliver reform and promote inclusive economic growth across councils.

“This would empower councils to harness the full potential of digital technology, to help them develop tailored solutions which meet local needs while contributing to national priorities, bridging the digital divide and ensuring that every community benefits from the transformative power of technology.”

The proposal also reflects one of five priorities in the white paper, to end bureaucratic reporting and exploit the full potential of technology, including AI.

Five priorities

Other changes advocated by the LGA include: improving learning from local government inspections; removing reporting that does not add value and develop more efficient ways of working with central government; and developing a complete picture of local spending by public sector organisations, including its aims.

The paper emphasises that this is a very difficult time for local government, with costs and demand for its services both rising,

“We are pressing for immediate change so local government can start to build back straight away for communities,” its foreword says. “This means practical action on the biggest challenges, including better support for children, homeless families, adults who draw on care and support, and on climate change.”

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