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Councils awarded £1.2m in innovation funding

Six councils will each get up to £350,000 for digital innovation projects aiming to improve services for residents, in the latest round of the Local Digital Fund

Six local authorities have been awarded a total of £1.2m for a range of projects, including planning application systems, an online directory for support services, sharing computer code and a digital system for council payments.

The funding is part of the £7.5m digital innovation fund launched by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) in September 2018, which will see each council receive a pot of money, ranging from £50,000 to £350,000, for their projects.

This is the fourth round of funding from the Local Digital Fund, and councils that have already received funding in previous rounds are now getting additional funds to continue with their projects.

The funding is awarded to the lead councils on the projects, which are in collaboration with 14 other local authorities.

MHCLG minister Simon Clarke said: “Digital technology has enormous potential to benefit society and improve our lives in countless ways and I am determined that councils harness its potential too.

“That is why I have announced £1.2m for councils to continue their work on truly innovative projects to improve public services for people across the country.” 

Local authorities to receive funding include Southwark Council, which received £100,000 in the second round of the fund to develop a user-centric digital planning application system to make planning processes more efficient and transparent, and will get an additional £350,000 for the project.

Several other London councils are also involved in developing the system, including the London Borough of Hackney, Surrey Heath Borough Council and the Greater London Authority.

Read more about the Local Digital Fund

Another London council, Lambeth, will, together with Wycombe District Council, Southwark Council, Lewisham Council and Camden Council, receive £350,000 to continue the design of a system to filter out incomplete planning applications.

Croydon Council, which is working to improve how computer code is shared between councils as a way to boost public services, will receive £100,000 to develop a prototype, working together with Dorset County Council and Huntingdonshire District Council.

In the first round of the fund, 16 projects involving 57 councils were awarded up to £100,000 to explore the potential of technology and innovation. In the second round of the fund, six councils were awarded a total of £753,000, and in the third round, seven councils shared funding.

Including the latest round, the Local Digital Fund has so far awarded £3.7m to local authorities, with 100 different councils involved in one or more projects.

The fund, which is due to conclude in this financial year, was originally promised by then local government minister Rishi Sunak in July 2018, as part of the launch of the Local Digital Declaration, which aims to set out how councils can transform public services.

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