Government makes grants to council IT schemes

Chris Mugan

The Government has selected 25 local authority IT schemes to act as pathfinder projects.

The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions hopes the projects, which will receive £25m in grants over the coming year, will become centres of expertise from which local government can learn.

A DETR spokeswoman said the awards were part of the £350m set aside to enable local authorities to meet the Government’s target of making all services available online by 2005.

“These partnerships between central government and the pathfinders are centred on dissemination. We will sit down with the local authorities to discuss how everyone can benefit from their work,” she said.

The Government chose the pathfinders from 140 submissions on the basis that they could develop their work in the next three years and their schemes could be practically replicated by other organisations.

Among the projects, local authorities in Cornwall, with support from the health service and local academic establishments, plan to introduce smart cards to enable citizens to access services online.

Southampton City Council is to expand the range of services available in its SmartCities smart card project and test public key infrastructure to increase security.

Suffolk County Council will run a digital TV scheme where users can report complaints such as faulty street lamps and potholes.

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