The Local Digital Fund Awards £800k to Innovative Projects

Published31st July 2020 AuthorJohn Hudson

What is the Local Digital Fund?

The Local Digital Fund Initiative is a community of organisations which works collaboratively. The aim is to deliver local public services that are user-centred and cost-effective.

The group is supported by funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MGCLG). They provide training and funding to all signatories and selected projects.

The Local Digital COVID-19 challenge

The challenge was set up to utilise data and digital tools to help local communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. In light of this, the MHCLG has awarded funding to projects which made advances during this period.

Out of 125 applications from 94 different councils, 11 were awarded the funding.

The projects are categorised into;

  • Data and reporting;
  • Community engagement;
  • Developing new working practices.

The categories were identified through workshops and user research projects to determine the challenges that councils are facing.

The UK’s Local Government Minister Simon Clarke said: “Councils have made huge efforts to support their residents at this testing time – by housing rough sleepers quickly, supporting vulnerable people and ensuring services such as bin collections continue.”

“They have had to adapt their services from in-person to online, using technology to do so and I am determined to capitalise on this and use everything we have learned to improve efficiency and make services better for residents and communities.”

“That’s why we’re giving them £800k to build on the rapid digital innovation of recent months so that local communities continue to feel the benefits of more efficient public services.”

Who has the £800k been awarded to?

The Local Digital Fund has split the £800k of support between the following projects.

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority – £80k

Their project models and anticipates an increased demand to help vulnerable children and their families.

Newcastle City Council – £67.5k

The council has been granted the funding to develop a digital tool which can identify overcrowding. The tool will warn of potential breaches in social distancing requirements, allowing citizens to make more informed decisions.

Central Bedfordshire Council, Greater London Authority, LB Camden and London Office of Technology and Innovation – £80k

The organisations have been awarded funding for a project to improve data communications between councils and voluntary services. The outcome will allow the organisations to offer better support to vulnerable members of the community post-pandemic.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council, North East, Lincolnshire Council, Hull City Council and North Lincolnshire Council – £76k

Their project is focussed on designing future working patterns. The work will help to ensure staff safety and reduce low levels of productivity.

Manchester City Council – £80k  

The work will use lessons learned from COVID-19 to improve the emergency response capabilities of local teams.

Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council – £23k

The council’s project will work to facilitate face-to-face interactions to enable access and support to council services for all.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council – £34k

This project will add extra functionality to the smartphone app they have developed. The functionality will help to prevent overcrowding on beaches, enabling social distancing to be maintained.

LB Camden and Middlesbrough Council – £80k

The focus is to develop digital functions to allow local residents to voice concerns on planning projects without having a physical presence.

South Gloucestershire Council and Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames with LB Sutton, West Berkshire Council, LGSS, Oxford City Council, Staffordshire County Council, Northamptonshire County, Cambridgeshire County Council, LB Waltham Forest and London Office of Technology and Innovation – £80k

The funding was received for the development of a digital playbook. This will include tools and systems that councils can implement for meetings and consultations.

Leeds City Council and Croydon Council with Eastbourne – £79.5k  

The project will develop tools to enable council authorities to tackle digital exclusions within communities.

Huntingdonshire District Council, Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, North Yorkshire County Council, Bolton Council, Sedgemoor District Council and Somerset’s councils – £120k

This merger project will work to speed up the process of identifying vulnerable people. This will allow councils to predict and provide the required support.

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