LGA highlights millions to be saved through digital transformation

2 Jun 16

Greater use of technology across a host of local services could unlock millions of pounds of savings for councils, according to a Local Government Association analysis.

An LGA report looking at 13 pilot schemes on service digitisation found using mobile technology to collect, review and update case information for each adult social care visit had saved an estimated £2m across the London triborough area of Kensington & Chelsea, Westminster, and Hammersmith & Fulham.

This both reduced staff travel time and enabled them to show service users related information, encouraging greater self-sufficiency.

Other examples highlighted by the LGA include a smartphone application developed for Staffordshire County Council, which offers access to a range of services provided by both county and district councils. It has been used in almost 40,000 sessions and the county estimates savings of £22,500 if only a fifth of these avoided a telephone call.

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council estimated it was able to save over £7,000 in the period April 2015 to the end of January 2016 through its investment in live web chat, enabling users to shift from more expensive contact channels, while Test Valley Council processed 420 electronic change notifications for council tax between December 2015 and mid-March 2016. Each was estimated to save more than £2,000 compared to customer telephone calls.

These were the results of the LGA’s digital experts programme, which funded 27 projects involving 42 councils to expand digital tools and approaches.

David Simmonds, chair of the LGA’s improvement and innovation board, said that there were many examples of councils developing and implementing innovative digital ways of providing services.

“The digital experts programme gives a helping hand to those councils who are keen to draw on the learning of their peers and quickly implement what has worked well elsewhere, and the results make interesting reading,” he said.

“It is great to see councils learning from each other and adopting the digital tools which have already been developed. We want to support the sector to share these assets more effectively so there will be bigger benefits for more councils.”

However, the report a number of problems were by, including the challenge of linking identified systems or transferring information. Feedback also highlighted the potential for unplanned costs to emerge, including the requirement to buy an extra licence for administration, or additional software to print transaction reports and review cyber security.

Tim Mitchell, Westminster Council’s cabinet member for finance and corporate services, said the LGA initiative had produced “an invaluable resource” for authorities.

“In sharing our experiences councils hit the accelerator on revolutionising public sector service delivery,” he stated.

“Digital by default improves customer experience, saves time and ultimately taxpayers’ money. Together we are leading the digital transformation of local government.”

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