The United Kingdom Moves towards Digital And Cybersecurity Reform

The United Kingdom’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has chosen eight local authorities to take part in its Future Councils pilot. The pilot program has the aim of creating “replicable pathways to digital and cybersecurity reform that other councils can follow”.

The councils of Broadland and South Norfolk, Cornwall, Dorset, Leicester, Lewisham, Reading, South Tyneside, and Stevenage were selected from 70 applicants and will each receive £750,000 (~US$887,000) for their projects.

The Local Digital team at DLUHC will work with the councils on three common challenges:

  • how to influence factors such as internal processes, leadership, and governance to enable change;
  • how to address obstacles in making digital and cyber improvements across the whole organization, rather than in just one area; and 
  • how to reform large critical services, which can be riskier and harder to change.

The six-month pilots will focus on five themes: cybersecurity, staff skills, systems and software, user experience of digital services, and back-end processes.

“Some councils were already looking for or using more advanced or technical expertise such as automation or security by design. Others wanted to embed or strengthen fundamental skills, such as user-centered design, cyber awareness, and agile working,” a Local Digital spokesperson said.

The eight councils will evaluate their current digital and cyber maturity and create an improvement plan. Each will identify at least one key service area to transform through migrating away from legacy technology, and create a plan to address their most significant organizational and cultural barriers. They will also work towards adopting the Cyber Assessment Framework for Local Government.

Councillor Amanda de Ryk, Lewisham Council Member for Finance and Strategy, explained how the borough plans to use the funding: “The £750,000 funding will go a long way in addressing a key service area – our registrars, to ensure that the user journey is seamless, the customer’s digital experience is free of any barriers and it is accessible to those who need to use this service. People tend to use our registrars at times when they have a lot going on in their lives – births, deaths, marriages – so we want to make sure that their digital experience is as easy as possible. We are looking forward to working with Future Councils to deliver this work and share it with our other council colleagues across the country.”

Local Digital has plans for further opportunities for more local authorities to join the Future Councils program later this year.