News story

New round of government funding to unlock public data

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The government has launched new funding initiatives to unlock more of the data held by public bodies.

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The Release of Data Fund and the Breakthrough Fund will help government to release more data to the public. This has the potential to improve public services and promote economic growth by encouraging the creation of data-led businesses and services.

Find out how to apply for funding.

Release of Data Fund

The Release of Data Fund was announced in the 2011 Autumn Statement. It provides funding to help government departments, agencies and local authorities release data that isn’t currently available in an open and reusable format.

The Open Data User Group (ODUG), which represents the wider open data community, supports funding applications with business cases. These show how released data can stimulate growth and lead to greater accountability and positive social benefits in the hands of developers, entrepreneurs and community groups.

In February 2014, £1.5 million was awarded to support projects that:

  • are directly releasing public data
  • will help boost skills in the public sector and improve public data release in the future

One of the funded projects, a Local Voucher Scheme, encourages local authorities to release 3 datasets chosen by ODUG in a standard format across England. Publishing these datasets on a national scale will allow innovators to create products that weren’t possible before, from consumer-focused platforms to bespoke apps and insights that lead to better public services. The Release of Data Fund is administered by the Cabinet Office and has a budget of up to £7 million over 2013 to 2015. For more information, email transparencystrategy@cabinet-office.gsi.gov.uk.

Breakthrough Fund

The Breakthrough Fund helps government to release open data where there are short-term technical barriers. There are 2 separate funding streams for central and local government, funding 2 central government projects and 19 local authorities’ projects in 2013 to 2014. These have all helped release more open data - eg City of York Council is releasing an up to date list of all of the services they provide, so that communities and community groups can access and reuse it.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills runs the Breakthrough Fund, which has a budget of of £2.5 million. Contact breakthroughfund@bis.gsi.gov.uk for more information.

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said:

The UK is an international leader in open data, which is helping us compete in the global race. Open data helps expose waste, sharpen accountability, and informs choice in public services. It is a raw material for economic growth. These funds will drive a culture of openness and ensure data of most value to citizens and businesses is released.

Minister for Skills and Enterprise Matthew Hancock said:

The release of more open data brings benefits to both consumers and the public sector. Increased access for businesses will also help to fuel growth and encourage even more new data-led businesses and services.

Heather Savory, Chair of the Open Data User Group (ODUG), said:

These funds allow us to tap into a groundswell of innovation to help deliver sustainable and tangible progress, moving us closer to a culture where public data is ‘open by default’. They empower businesses, public sector bodies and individuals to unlock previously unavailable data and create new opportunities for growth and the improved delivery of public services; through original projects, increased capacity, improved standards and stronger infrastructures.

Published 1 April 2014