Local Government Digital Transformation Fund Panel

Local Government Digital Transformation Fund Panel

This year, we’ve been running the Local Government Digital Transformation Fund, and we’ve blogged about the process, the submissions we’ve received so far and the sifting process we did to create our shortlist.

On Monday 5 September we held the Panel session where colleagues from Welsh Government, CDPS (Centre for Digital Public Services) and Sam our CDO discussed the 5 shortlisted submissions and their impact for local government. There were 6 submissions originally shortlisted but 2 of the submissions were so similar, we asked the submitters if we could combine them into one project, and they agreed, so we went down to 5.

The Panel stage allowed the members to discuss the details of the proposed projects, what would be needed for each one, and how that would provide value for local government, and then to agree or disagree with the decision to provide funding. One of the key talking points was around ensuring that projects have outcomes with a wider utility across local government to ensure they have maximum value, as well as ensuring that projects utilise and build on existing work that is already happening  in the public sector. We’ve had some offers from Authorities to share work they’re already doing or have done around some of the submission topics, so we’ll ensure we link those people up to have discussions where needed.

We found the session invaluable in a number of ways:

  • It tested our thinking and challenged our assumptions
  • It gave us an understanding of existing work across the different topics and contacts we could pass onto projects
  • It gave the people involved a window into what’s happening across Authorities
  • It ensured fairness, parity and made sure there was no bias at all
  • It confirmed our thinking and our commissioning model with regards impact for Authorities and citizens

As part of this discussion, the Panel suggested that the amount of funding be decided by our team during subsequent conversations with the teams that submitted the proposals. We’re keen to understand next steps and allocate based on this, rather than give a standard amount that may or may not cover off the work that is needed. A member of the Welsh Government’s Tech Valleys team was on the panel, and where we’ve had submissions that require capital investment and didn’t make the shortlist, we’ve passed these submissions on to them, and have notified those people that submitted these projects to the Fund so they’re aware.

And now, the results! 5 submissions passed the Panel process, and these submissions are:

Digital SkillsBridgend
Vale of Glamorgan

Tony Curliss
Transformation of local authority services in Wales is being inhibited by a scarcity of digital skills and resources. Barriers to collaboration and resource sharing is leading to a poorer experience for residents and potentially spiralling resource costs as organisations compete for resources across the whole economy. Welsh local authorities face a significant challenge in recruiting and retaining staff with the digital skills sets required to make key changes to transform the citizen experience and the delivery and support of council services. The partners would like to explore options for a collaborative approach, exploring all available options to improve the digital skill sets across the Welsh Local Government landscape and align our resources in a sustainable and shared manner to resolve the resource problem.
Digital SkillsCaerphilly
Blaenau Gwent

Jane Haile hailej@caerphilly.gov.uk
During 2020/2021, the WLGA digital team worked with a consortium of 4 local authorities who collectively researched and completed an Alpha to find a future-proofed digital learning solution to meet the workforce development requirements of local authorities and their communities within Wales.  As a group they challenged current choices and in particular the national concern regarding non-engaging eLearning sites that felt to the user more of a management led tick box. One of the findings from the Alpha which is something to consider moving into a Beta phase of the project (before the product is fully live and operational) is how we will embed a culture of continuous reflection and iteration. The Beta phase of this project should work out the procurement and governance structure for a sustainable shared solution for Welsh councils.  There will be implementation costs that can be reduced using the benefits of economy of scale.
Digital InclusionTorfaen
Blaenau Gwent 
The Shared Resource Service (SRS)

James Vale james.vale@torfaen.gov.uk
The problem is digital exclusion: partners do not have an evidence-based nor deep understanding of who is digitally excluded and why (e.g. capacity (economic, infrastructure, opportunities etc.) and/or capability (education; use of devices etc)); who is at risk of becoming digitally excluded; and therefore how we can work locally and on a Gwent-wide basis with public sector partners (including potentially Gwent Police, Aneurin Bevan and at a regional PSB level) to target interventions to reduce digital exclusion, measure outcomes and ensure the needs of digitally excluded customers are factored into service design activity.

We are limited to explore digital exclusion from the confines of data from our current customers, and national statistics which provides a high-level view of digital exclusion, but limited understanding as to who this affects and how best to provide targeted and impactful support.
Independent LivingPembrokeshire

Dafydd Owen
How do you engage and promote the use of potential preventative technology into people’s lives before they are in need? Early introduction and intervention of technology can help its use become embedded and familiar into daily routines at a stage in a person’s life where they still have capacity to learn new tasks and skills. Those skills can then be built on when the needs arise.
Modernising ServicesBlaenau Gwent
The City of Newport Council

Shaun Hughes
During user research, user stories, usability tests and analytics, we have considerable evidence that citizens and staff have problems finding and understanding our content. This includes content on web pages, mobile apps, search engines, applications (i.e., Planning and Building Control or Blue Badge), guidance, letters, flyers, social media, invoices, and bills – all internal and external content.

We’ve been in touch with the successful and unsuccessful councils to let them know the outcome. If you are interested in being part of one of these projects, whether you’re not one of the submitting councils or if you are and just want to know the right person to speak to, please contact the project lead as shown in the table to express your interest.

Our next stage for the Fund will be to hold kick off meetings with the 5 groups and discuss next steps and the amount of funding provided. There are specific steps the projects will need to take, such as monthly show and tells, which we’ll be communicating, and we’ll be holding monthly catch-up meetings going forwards to provide help and support to the projects as they progress. We’ll also be promoting any show and tell sessions to our mailing list so that you can see what’s happening and provide feedback. If you’d like to sign up to the mailing list, you can here: https://localgovernmentdigital.wales/contact-us-and-subscribe/.

After this, we’ll be holding a retro in March 2023 to get feedback on this year’s process and will be reporting back to the Welsh Government on plans for the 2023/24 funding process. If you’ve got any questions, please let us know.

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