Localgov.uk proposal ‘is deeply flawed’

by Joe Curtis| 16 June 2014

Socitm rejects Technology Manifesto proposal for a single website for local government.

A single website for all local councils is a "deeply flawed" idea, according to Socitm, the body representing local public sector IT professionals.

The proposal was put forward by the Policy Exchange's Technology Manifesto, released on June 4, which called for a local government digital services hub to be set up inside Socitm to establish the website, like the central Government's gov.uk, called localgov.uk.

However, Socitm has moved quickly to squash the idea, calling it a "daunting" prospect for logistics and development in a statement released today.

The statement said the proposal is "ill-conceived and should not be attempted", and "although the idea sounds attractive, on closer inspection the single local government website concept is deeply flawed".

The society conceded that a digital relationship with residents of a council's borough is vital, but said local democratic engagement would be impeded by a centralised website.

It added that while councils do offer similar services, they are predominantly carried out by each authority's local suppliers.

However, the body said it welcomed a common platform to enable local councils to share software and applications, and said such an approach has been confused in the medi with a shared website.

Nick Roberts, socitm president added: "It's not difficult to sign up to the idea that if there are transactions all local councils are operating, we only need to build once and share. We'd all welcome reducing dependence on proprietary systems and moving towards open source, publicly owned solutions and clearly GDS can support collaboration to evolve exemplar transactions.

"The key will be in using standard APIs to enable the integration of transaction code built once on a shared platform, say gov.uk, with existing local authority platforms. Socitm is keenly engaged in this space."

The news comes after Socitm's head of policy, Martin Ferguson, recently told CBR that G-Cloud wasn't meeting the needs of local government, reacting to claims that county councils were wasting millions of pounds by not using the Government framework.

He said: "From a local government point of view, a lot of services on there are not realistic to help local government with what services it delivers."

Last week marked the release of the .uk suffix, which 10 million UK businesses and websites will be able to use in addition to or in replacement of '.co.uk', according to Nominet, the organisation overseeing the suffix's adoption.

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