Welsh Government Digital Strategy vs. Local Authorities Digital Strategies

Welsh Government Digital Strategy vs. Local Authorities Digital Strategies

The new Welsh Government digital strategy is centred around accountability, leadership, and delivery.

This is to ensure that all Welsh citizens including its workforces have efficient, first class and robust experiences when accessing local government services across Wales irrespective of their location. Conversely local government councils are dependent on the overarching Welsh digital strategy to create a viable digital infrastructure for e.g. 5G network, smarter, homes, wi-fi hotspots, electric car charging points etc which will underpin the individual local government strategies.

In this blog post, I will highlight the similarities and differences between the Welsh Gov digital strategy and the individual local government digital strategies across Wales.

Welsh Digital Strategy vs Local Government Strategies

Welsh digital strategy has identified a five-points agenda to support its vision including their associated ambitions. Below are the similarities and differences in comparison with individual local government strategies.

Digital Services

Most councils are working on developing online platforms (My Account) of targeted service information, reporting tools and routine transactions that are accessible with a single log on; delivering a seamless, automated, end-to-end customer journey that encourages and supports independence and convenience. For example, Merthyr Tydfil priority is to ensure that digital interactions will become first choice to the customers. Caerphilly Borough on the other hand has an extensive data of citizens’ digital use and have recognised the need to encourage and promote online services.

Local authorities are keen to focus on easy to use, reliable, digital solutions that enables 24/7 access to services in line with the Welsh Strategy which aims to have all services that can be online be available online. This is part of a complex channel matrix to ensure there are offline channels that continue to be available where there is a customer need. People accessing local government services will choose to use digital services, increasing self-service interactions between citizens and the government which frees up capacity from frontline staff to provide more personalised, in-depth offline services.

Both the Welsh Government and local authority strategies recognise the value in accessible online services that can be completed successfully, first time, unaided. This extends to the ability to interact with democratic processes online and receive notifications on services and democratic decisions that are relevant to them.

The Welsh Digital Strategy plans to work with businesses to develop and implement the Welsh Language Technology Action Plan, creating components that can be reused freely by all and also build capability in bilingual user experience, embedding bilingual best practice into organisations. This trend is not widely common across other local authorities but is referenced with Newport, Ceredigion, and Bridgend.

diagram showing various plans on Welsh Government Digital Strategy vs Local Government Strategies

Digital Economy

Several local authorities have identified the need to promote economic growth and improve the quality of life in Wales. To achieve this ambition, digital transformation must play a significant part in this initiative. For example Newport City Council has recognised that to grow a prosperous and striving economy, a superfast broadband is needed, this will fast track the provision of public wi-fi, support IT infrastructure in  schools, offices and businesses across the council and most importantly support their cloud first ambition.

The Welsh Government digital strategy has highlighted the need to promote ICT Framework and eProcurement platform to support the economy and meet the needs of the Welsh public sector. Conversely this has not been mentioned in all local government digital strategies.

Welsh Digital Strategy vs Local Government Strategies

Digital Capability

The local authorities that have outlined a priority and aspiration for developing digital capability have shared that this will facilitate and underpin the delivery of the Welsh Government Digital strategy.

For example, Carmarthenshire County Council has identified that empowering its workforce and citizens to be efficient and effective with digital technologies will enable better delivery of services online. This coincides with the Welsh Digital strategy which centres on building a digital framework that encourages knowledge sharing, cloud-first technology and training its workforce and citizen in cyber skill that will support digital growth across Wales.

Digital Inclusion

The Digital strategy for Wales aims to provide public services that are available to everyone. Digital inclusion will be part of all policy development and accessibility must be built into service design from the outset. Inclusive, accessible services will enable anyone to access local government services.

Some of the councils (for example, Blaenau Gwent and Powys) are proactively working to ensure that customers receive the same level of service when accessing services online and offline. Other local authorities, such as Bridgend and Pembrokeshire, have focussed on the platforms to ensure choice when accessing services. Cardiff City Council has chosen to prioritise access to services online due to the better connectivity in the city and a focus on training and support for people to access online services.

There is a general consensus of all local authorities in Wales working to ensure that all citizens receive similar types of services regardless of their location and to ensure continuous delivery services.

Collaboration

The Welsh Government digital strategy is focused on looking for opportunities to collaborate with partners on digital initiatives including data and knowledge. Similarly, Welsh local authorities are focused on sharing of data to reduce repeat customer interactions and ensure that customers receive similar level of service when accessing services.

Diagram showing the different councils focusing on opportunities to collaborate with partners on data and knowledge sharing. They are Merthyr Tydfil, the Isle of Angelesey, Newport, Ceredigion, Neath Port Talbot, Caerphilly, Bridgend and Flintshire.

Conclusion

Local authorities in Wales realise the opportunities presented when investing in digital to drive and promote economic growth and offer quality, efficient services.

There are very few differences between the new Welsh Government digital strategy and the individual local government digital strategies at the time of writing. The aspects missing which may enable further collaboration and value, are the timelines for delivery and a shared approach.