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Wales invests £4.9m in digital services improvement

Government funding aims to accelerate the design and delivery of citizen-focused offerings in Wales

Wales has announced it will invest £4.9m in the improvement and acceleration of the development of digital citizen services.

The Centre for Digital Public Services, which was established in 2020 as the entity responsible for online public services, will receive the funding.

According to the Welsh government, the announcement is part of its digital strategy focused on harnessing data, digital, technology and artificial intelligence, which is being crowdsourced to test ideas and gather new suggestions.

“It is crucial that our public services evolve to meet the changing expectations of the people who need and use them, and that they are as simple to use and intuitive as many of the services we access when we are online shopping or providing our energy meter readings,” said Welsh economy minister Lee Waters.

“We want people to be able to easily access the services they want through a few clicks of the mouse or taps of the screen. This means ensuring that first-class digital services become the norm in our public services and this investment in skills, leadership and standards will be key to helping us achieve that goal,” he added.

The investment will go towards specialised training programmes and digital squads, which are responsible for accelerating the delivery of services alongside public sector organisations, as well as building digital knowledge among the general public.

“We want people to be able to easily access the services they want [online]. This means ensuring that first-class digital services become the norm in our public services and this investment in skills, leadership and standards will be key to helping us achieve that goal”
Lee Waters, Welsh economy minister

According to the Welsh government, these initiatives are aimed to ensure that the experience of people accessing public services online is “as easy and user-friendly as when they shop or bank online”.

The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the transformation of some digital services in Wales. An example was a project to improve access to adult social care services online, with Neath Port Talbot Council working with Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen councils, supported by the Centre for Digital Public Services.

Another initiative has seen digital automation used to process applications for free school meals at Caerphilly County Borough Council. According to the Welsh government, this was crucial as demand for free school meals surged during the pandemic.

The work carried out enables local authorities to ensure that eligible schoolchildren are accepted on to the free school meals programme on the day of their application and has resulted in a speedier process.

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