Every July, the Local Digital team holds a month-long campaign to celebrate the anniversary of the launch of the Local Digital Declaration.
Digital Declaration Month is about more than just our own achievements; it’s about celebrating the achievements of our Declaration signatories and the wider Local Digital community in making digital services that better meet the needs of citizens and deliver better value for money.
Since it was launched in 2018 by 45 organisations, the Local Digital Declaration has grown to a community of 288 signatories with a shared vision to “co-create the conditions for the next generation of local public services, where technology is an enabler rather than a barrier to service improvements.”
In this blog post, we want to celebrate some of our highlights from the fourth anniversary of the Declaration and share some of the stories that we’ve heard from the Local Digital community throughout July.
Our highlights from the last year
The last 12 months in particular have seen a lot of exciting change and growth for the team—and there’s plenty more to come. Since our last anniversary we have:
- merged the cyber and digital teams to become one team with a clear, shared purpose—Local Digital
- been awarded £85 million of multi-year funding to carry out an ambitious multi-year programme of work
- grown the team to include a new Head of Engagement and a Community Engagement Manager to drive our engagement work with councils
- awarded funding to nine council-led digital projects through Round 5 of the Local Digital Fund
- hit the road for the first time in two years as part of the Local Digital Roadshow, giving us the chance to meet 119 council staff in-person across 6 events and gather your feedback on our future plans
- launched the Council Spotlight series to showcase council stories, achievements and contributions to the Local Digital movement
- held our first ever training programme for senior local government officers, delivered in collaboration with the Amazon Web Services Institute
The past year has also seen many of our funded projects from previous rounds reach important milestones in their development:
- LocalGov Drupal has grown to a community of 29 councils and seven suppliers, and are now looking at ways to transition to a legal entity with a sustainable business model thanks to £400,000 of funding from DLUHC
- RIPA and BOPS became a joint project team to move into private beta, united around a shared goal to design an end-to-end beta service that could process live applications for Lawful Development Certificates
- The OpenReferral UK data standard was endorsed by the UK Government Data Standards Authority in March 2022, and is now on its way towards adoption by councils throughout the UK. The ODI has also committed to hosting their first data institution for the OpenReferral UK data standard to free up and clarify information across organisations
In an interview with UK Authority, Lawrence Hopper (DLUHC Deputy Director of Digital), also reflected on some of the achievements of the Local Digital Declaration to date—including how it has supported councils to 'fix the plumbing'—and shared an update on the future of Local Digital.
What impact has the Declaration had?
The Local Digital Declaration has been truly groundbreaking in opening up the boundaries between councils, facilitating communication and enabling true collaboration.
- Barnsley Council’s Local Gov IMS project
This year, we invited our signatories and the Local Digital community to join in the celebrations by tweeting using the hashtag #LocalDigital4Years, or by sharing a blog post that we can promote for them.
We’ve received more than 30 tweets throughout the month and it’s been incredible to hear about the wide-ranging impact of the Declaration, including:
- building better digital services, such as housing registers and missed bin collections
- enabling better digital access for residents
- council teams working in a more agile way and becoming more digitally capable
- putting users at the heart of digital processes and embedding accessibility
- designing and producing content that is more clear, concise and reliable
- providing support and funding to councils on digital projects such as Income Management Systems
- driving collaboration among councils, including sharing knowledge, ideas and skills to create innovative new digital services, as well as working collaboratively with users and other public bodies
- making commitments to using and sharing data appropriately to design services that better meet the needs of citizens
Several signatories also chose to blog about the impact of the Declaration on their organisation or project:
- Newark and Sherwood wrote about how funding from Local Digital enabled them to deliver their Housing Repairs project and to improve other online services
- Blackburn and Darwen published a blog post to introduce the diverse digital team they have built since signing the Declaration four years ago
- The Income Management System (IMS) project, led by Barnsley Council, blogged about how their work was made possible thanks to the Declaration
- Declaration co-authors, Socitm, published a blog post to reflect on the progress made over the last four years and what more can be done
If you have a story to tell and would like to share your achievements with us, why not contribute to an upcoming issue of our Council Spotlight blog series? To nominate yourself or your team, complete this short form and we will be in touch for more information.
What’s next for the Declaration?
Our upcoming programmes of work are currently being designed around the core principles of the Declaration, and this includes supporting the sector to improve cyber health, move away from legacy technology, and work collaboratively to build more user-centred digital services.
We are also planning to work with councils to review and refresh the Declaration to ensure it meets the evolving needs of the Local Digital community.
We have three years to deliver something significant, and more money to do it, and there’s a greater recognition in central government-post Covid that digital reform in local government is needed.
- Lawrence Hopper, DLUHC Deputy Director of Digital, in UK Authority magazine.
In this recent blog post you can read about how we’ve started engaging with councils to help shape our work through the Local Digital Roadshow.
We’ll continue to share more on our plans as they develop via our usual channels:
- Follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn
- Read our fortnightly Sprint Notes
- Subscribe to our fortnightly newsletter
- Join LocalGov Digital and their Slack community (find our updates on the #dluhc-local-digital-fund channel)
Are you ready to become a Declaration signatory?
Any public sector and non-profit organisation that is working to improve local services is invited to join the Local Digital movement by signing the Declaration.
If your organisation has been inspired by the stories from Digital Declaration Month month and is ready to become a Declaration signatory:
- First, make sure you understand what the Declaration is, who can sign and what are the benefits of signing.
- Then, read the Declaration in full – including what we ask you to commit to.
- Before you sign, read our guidance on making a commitment.
- When you’re ready, sign up to the Declaration on the Local Digital website.