Local government study shows most staff and councillors ‘unengaged’ in digital

Council staff report low levels of involvement in digital matters, even among decision makers, with scant resources and finances to upskill and improve.

oval brown wooden conference table and chairs inside conference room

Overall 37% of senior executives say they are ‘very engaged’ with digital matters. This rises to 42% for those who consider themselves to be ‘quite engaged’. Percentages were mirrored among heads of individual services. 

Worryingly, the numbers plummet for those working in other roles. Among research participants, only 13% described their councillors as ‘very engaged’ in digital issues. For frontline staff, that figure drops further, to 11%. Among both respondent types, more than 40% indicated their colleagues were ‘not very engaged’ or ‘not at all engaged’. 

The research appears in the PublicTechnology Local Government Digital Transformation Report. It also found that councils were struggling to find money to pay for upskilling and access to the necessary digital expertise to realise their ambitions. Only 7% of local authorities have the required skillset in place, even less – 2% – are confident they have the funds to meet digital needs. 

The numbers should make troubling reading for council staff, particularly those at a decision-making level. Yesterday, InfoTec News reported on a new public survey which showed two-thirds of Britons would like to see online public services delivered in ways that match large private organisations. 66% demand a full suit of services to be available online. 

However, digital support still remains crucial, and relies on staff members being fluent in both systems and strategy to be delivered in a meaningful and impactful way. In March, we covered the sudden u-turn by HMRC after backlash followed the department’s announcement it was cutting helpline provision for the self-employed to just six months in every 12. 

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