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Transforming local public services using technology and digital tools and approaches

From typewriters to smart phones, technology has always played a vital role in the way local government manages its business. As councils face the twin challenges of decreasing funding and increasing demand, they have found new ways of utilising technology to deliver services more effectively and enable their staff work in new ways, increasing productivity and reducing costs. By 2015, central government funding for councils will have been cut by 40 per cent over the period of this Parliament. The Institute for Fiscal Studies anticipates that the spending cuts will continue until 2020. This comes at a time when the impact of the economic downturn, demographic change, major government initiatives including Universal Credit and Troubled Families, new public health responsibilities, and fundamental changes to the local government finance system are compounding the pressures on councils.

Councils deliver an estimated 80 per cent of local public services, and are located in and form part of the communities they serve. They are rising to the challenges they face and transforming the way they deliver services by redesigning, reorganising and reforming. An important part of this process is bringing their deep understanding of local needs together with technological innovations to offer better management of demand, more reliable and efficient handling of routine transactions, and greater use of shared data.

This report seeks to highlight examples where councils have used technology and digital tools and approaches in ways that clearly demonstrate an impact both in terms of improved outcomes for citizens and financial savings. There are nearly 50 such examples in this report, where ‘digital’ or technological innovation has been successfully combined with the intelligent use of customer insight and other complementary approaches such as demand management, lean and systems thinking and collaborative procurement. A selection of more detailed case studies is available on the LGA website.