The Local Government Association has announced funding for 10 councils which will help them reach out to residents who lack the skills, infrastructure and confidence to go online by providing them with support, assistance and one-to-one mentoring.
The LGA’s sector-led improvement offer provides robust peer challenges and support to help councils improve performance, become more efficient and effective and share good practice. As part of that offer, the LGA’s Digital Inclusion programme is providing £200,000 for 10 councils to better meet the needs of their residents, improve productivity and their livelihoods.
Innovative online council services are helping councils to meet the needs of their residents and improve productivity. As councils have faced a decrease in funding and an increase in demand, they have found new ways of using technology to deliver services.
Independent analysis estimated that full digital uptake could add £63 billion to the UK economy – for local economies and for their resident’s wellbeing. It can help reduce loneliness, risk of falls and promote independence.
With 21 per cent of Britain’s population lacking the basic digital skills and capabilities required to benefit from using the internet, the successful councils will provide residents with earlier access to support. They will also help those who require more support or may have specific needs that cannot be met through the standard online service offer, improving livelihoods and wellbeing.
The 10 councils selected for the LGA’s programme and who will receive a share of £200,000 are:
Colchester Borough Council; Huntingdonshire District Council; Kent County Council, London Borough of Croydon; London Borough of Richmond upon Thames in partnership with the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames; London Borough of Tower Hamlets; Middlesbrough Council; North Yorkshire County Council; Shropshire Council; The Royal Borough of Greenwich.
Cllr Peter Fleming, Chairman of the LGA’s Improvement and Innovation Board, said
“Councils are improving the lives and employment prospects of their residents through digital inclusion programmes.
“The latest cohort of councils included in the programme will give residents 24/7 online access.
“As part of the LGA’s wider sector-led improvement offer, the Digital Inclusion programme is helping councils to reach out and provide a vital service for residents who don’t have access or confidence to use digital platforms.
“Despite facing significant funding pressures over the past decade, councils have shown willingness to innovate to improve the lives of their residents.”
Local authorities are working hard to ensure more residents enjoy the wider benefits of increased digital inclusion. Some examples include:
- Up to 40 per cent of social tenants in Leeds say that they do not have access to the internet. Leeds City Council is developing pilots, including looking at how low cost broadband could be provided to individual tenants in a range of housing types including tower blocks, smaller multi-occupancy buildings and houses.
- Dacorum Borough Council worked with university researchers to identify behavioural patterns in the use of online services and to understand how different groups respond to different financial and non-financial incentives.
- As part of the LGA’s sector-led improvement offer, the Digital Inclusion programme will encourage councils to work with specific cohorts of residents who may not have benefited already from improved access to online services.