We hosted our first #AskRishi event today on LocalGov Digital’s Slack channel. Nearly 40 people logged on to pose their questions to our Local Government Minister, Rishi Sunak MP and discuss all things digital in local government.
Some of the highlights
There were several great questions asked, many of which led to further conversations between members. The community also found the dedicated time so useful that they've decided to trial a weekly live chat every Friday at 1!
Here are some of the highlights:
How do small councils get the most out of the initiative?
Neil Lawrence (Oxford City Council) asked:
As someone who works for a small council with no real development resource, how do you see councils like us participating and getting the most out of the initiative?
Rishi responded: “I represent a rural part of the country with small district councils so I am committed to making sure this works for all types of councils. Over the summer the team are engaging with the sector to get your ideas on how best you could use some small additional funding.”
He also flagged that we’re designing the fund to incentivise common outputs. So, even though not every council will be able to deliver a collaborative project, for example, everyone should be able to learn from the projects we support.
How will we help leaders and senior managers to support the Declaration agenda?
Phil Rumens (West Berkshire) asked:
How can we make sure the message about digital service design enabling better, cheaper services, gets through to local politicians and senior managers to create real culture change in local government?
Rishi: "I have been taking this message to the specific audiences you mentioned and will keep doing the same. I launched the initiative at the LGA conferences (councillors, leaders) and also followed that up with a keynote at CIPFA (finance directors). I will keep hammering home the message to council decision makers whenever I can. As I said, 'IT belongs in the boardroom not the basement!'"
Can we drive more local-central government collaboration?
Ben Cheetham (Kingston & Sutton):
Do you feel there is more of an appetite for central government departments to collaborate more with local? There have been efforts in the past to try and get departments to work with LAs e.g. DVLA or DVSA where we can get them to really change transactions we deliver locally to be real-time and avoid the need for residents and businesses to provide paper documents to us - e.g. parking permits, taxi licensing.
I appreciate central departments have needed to get their own house in order, but there are some real (potentially bigger opportunities) if departments worked more with local authorities.
Rishi: "Ben (or others), this is really helpful, thanks. Make sure you get the team the specific examples of things these departments need to do and then I can talk to the Ministers responsible to try and encourage better collaboration. If there are big simple wins that impact people on the ground accessing services that would be of great interest to me."
Neil Lawrence responded to Rishi with the example of online voter registration. People can apply multiple times even though they are on the electoral register, which can be frustrating for election teams.
If you have any other specific examples please let us know in the comments below or contact us with the details.
Was #AskRishi successful?
Generally people in the chat seemed to find it useful and asked that it be more regular. Rishi really enjoyed it too so we will set it up as regular thing. Keep an eye on our Twitter @LDgovUK for details of the next #AskRishi event.
If you’re not already on Slack, become a member of LocalGov Digital to join in next time.