The UK government has announced a £7.5m funding competition for local councils that are aiming to enhance public services through innovative uses of digital technology.
In this connection, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) said that grants from the government’s Local Digital Fund, of up to £350,000, will be invested in digital technology projects taken up by the councils.
According to the MHCLG, only councils in England are eligible to lead on applications, while councils in remaining parts of the UK are still eligible to partner on applications.
Councils can start applying for the Local Digital Fund now with applications to close on 16 September 2019.
The department said that projects bidding for the Local Digital Fund should be shared by councils working in partnership to study how digital technology can help in providing better public services for residents in innovative ways.
MHCLG said that ideas could range from making the lives of people easier with more efficient, online methods to pay for services or get help, to adopting technology to support vulnerable people or social housing repairs, making bin collections, and also to have better taxi licensing services.
UK Minister for Local Government Luke Hall said: “Digital technology is transforming our lives. From smart tech at home to apps on our phones, it’s helping us to stay connected and making things easier.
“Councils are on the front line of exploring how we can harness technology to improve services while saving taxpayers’ money.
“Today we’re opening up the next round of applications for the Local Digital Fund. I would encourage all councils with innovative ideas that focus on residents’ needs to apply.”
Last year, the UK government awarded grants of up to £100,000 to 16 projects with 57 councils working together to shape new digital services and evaluate the potential of modern technology.
Projects that were awarded grants last year included investigating how virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa can enhance the lives of people in need of care, making online tools for reporting social home repairs better, and making use of data analytics and artificial intelligence to create education plans for children with special needs.