Mr Lewis was speaking as a new report showed that 40% of councils still haven’t saved money from using digital tools and technologies despite potential efficiencies of up to £12 million each being available.
Councils which have delivered digital savings have reduced their spending by an average of £1 million and the minister urged all local authorities to take advantage. He said:
It is heartening that 6 in 10 councils are already reporting savings from their digital endeavours.
However it is equally troubling that 40% of councils are yet to drive efficiencies from this opportunity and I would urge these councils to reach out, learn from the best, and accelerate their digital programmes.
Few would dispute the willingness and ability of many of our citizens to engage with public services online. Fewer still would dispute the cost savings that can be made from the move to digital services and processes.
While much progress has been made across frontline services it is essential that the sector now works together to share learning and best practice and rapidly transform the ways in which we join up and provide services. Excellent, efficient, joined up digital and assisted digital services that our citizens choose to use should be our universal goal.
The Local digital today report from UKAuthority on how councils are adapting to new technology is a joint venture between the Department for Communities and Local Government; the Local Government Association; and the Society of Information Technology Management.
Its survey of local authorities also found that 91% believe that digital will help provide services at lower cost, while 84% feel that online and mobile applications can improve the quality of their interactions with the public.
Chief Information Officer at Hampshire County Council and chairman of the Local CIO Council Jos Creese said:
There is still surprisingly little data and evidence about the power of ‘digital’ to modernise the public sector. We all know that ‘channel shift’ to web transactions saves money, but it’s not enough.
Much more evidence exists in the private sector where digital leaders are shown to outperform their peers in every industry. Yet the public sector now depends on a shift to digital delivery wherever possible to drive out cost while protecting services.
This survey is therefore very helpful in aligning technology opportunity with business benefits in the public sector - productivity, efficiency, improved customer service, new service design. It demonstrates why ‘local’ matters and that it’s all about technology use, not just innovative technology.
See the Local digital today report.