Local government digital transformation report 2023: Summary and solution 
Phil Stock
Founder & CEO

Local government digital transformation report 2023: Summary and solution 

Let’s explore the six issues and recommendations the local government digital transformation report highlights.

Local government digital transformation report 2023: Summary and solution 

Local government digital transformation report 2023: Summary and solution. 

Let’s go digital! Historic changes have been made in local government to improve the user experience and efficiency of many systems, like the SEND system. However, these changes have been driven by cost minimisation, not redesign for significant change. 

We have the chance to move local area departments to the digital side; the digital transformation report discussed in today’s article highlights six issues and recommendations for accepting and implementing the change desperately needed. 

Whether you work in your local authority’s SEND team or want to know more about the digital transformation roadmap to expect for your local area, it is useful to know the areas of challenge and proposed solutions. 

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Why is digital transformation needed in local government? 

Millions of young people and their families access local government services. Although public-sector local authority services lack the financial backing private sectors do, the same high expectations remain. 

Digital transformation is needed to improve the lives of those affected by local government decisions—like SEND service users and employed professionals. Public departments in local authorities are witnessing skilled SEND professionals choose to move to the private sector due to the growing demands and unobtainable workload, further reducing the capacity to meet the EHCP demand. 

By improving how local area SEND teams operate, local governments can save money, increase the quality of services, like EHCPS, and allow professionals to focus on their areas of expertise rather than administrative tasks. Systemic changes will help local authority departments to achieve the challenging timeframes they are working towards. 

Let’s explore the six issues and recommendations the local government digital transformation report highlights.

UK government digital transformation report: Summary and solutions

The move towards digital processes is not a new venture. The Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO) was created by the government in 2021 to help drive digital transformation in departments of most need. The CDDO digital transformation roadmap was created in 2021, with ambitious targets aiming to be achieved by 2025. 

Increased funding was secured by the CDDO of up to £4 billion to implement digital transformation, monitor progress and identify and reduce risks to success. There are many challenges local authorities face in order to improve current systems by making them digital. 

This report highlights six issues and recommendations for addressing the wide-scale inefficiencies in local government services. For this article, we will apply these recommendations to the SEND services young people and their families access, including the EHCP application process. 

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Digital transformation report 2023: Recommendation 1

The issue 

The research behind this report found that the lack of a single service owner is causing challenges across departments in the local authorities. Private sectors have a business case for each project, knowing the total projected cost end-to-end before beginning. The current services in the local authorities have limited big-picture understanding of the total cost involved with changes. 

The recommendation 

The report recommends that each department have a senior and suitably experienced single service owner. One person will be tasked with identifying the full costs, possible improvements, and opportunity costs if the change is not implemented. 

‘With Invision360, the staff time taken to audit an EHCP has dropped by 50%.’ Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council. 

Digital transformation report 2023: Recommendation 2

The issue

Historically, local government departments have made piecemeal changes, aiming to minimise cost rather than transform the change necessary to improve services. Many departments' legacy systems and data are acting as a barrier to the change needed. The current SEND system’s challenges lie within capacity and quality. With many skilled SEND professionals leaving the public sector due to the unmanageable caseload, like educational psychologists (EPs), the SEND system needs redesigning. 

This report warns local authorities that only superficial changes will be possible without the correct resources and capabilities. 

The recommendation 

The single service owner for each department, the SEND department in this case, must understand how the change they seek to implement will reduce future costs and improve services for families. Business cases should explain the improvements in service and future costs possible through the changes, including the improvement of SEND service quality and capacity of all SEND professionals. 

‘Our EHCPs that have been audited ‘Good’ have rocketed from 14.7% to 87.6%’ Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council. 

Digital transformation report 2023: Recommendation 3

The issue 

There are concerns surrounding the importance of digital skills when appointing senior leader roles. Current appointment letters for permanent secretaries reference financial responsibilities but nothing on digital responsibility. Over half of current non-executive directors in government roles do not consider themselves to have digital expertise. 

The recommendation 

The report recommends that each government department should have at least one non-executive director with digital, data, and technology expertise on its board. The appointment of future senior leaders should prioritise addressing departments with high-risk legacy systems. All departments should use digital resources that give confidence to the team. 

Digital transformation report 2023: Recommendation 4

The issue

Local areas are facing digital skills shortages within their staff. Headcount cuts are reducing the number of staff who are confident and competent with digital, data, and technological processes, limiting the opportunity to transform. The government estimates that the departments have less than 50% of the necessary digital skills. 

The recommendation 

Having under-resourced digital skills in departments impacts the ‘business as usual’ operations and planned change programmes (like the digitisation of EHCPs). The report recommends that the CDDO support departments avoid counter-productive headcount cuts that reduce the team's digital skills capacity. Teams should look to upskill their current team through training or CPD opportunities to increase digital skills across departments. 

Digital transformation report 2023: Recommendation 5

The issue 

The procurement process doesn’t recognise the complexities behind new and digital programmes. Managing the costing process in the same way as physical infrastructure costings. The systems allow capital funding bids to be secured more easily than resource allocations for services. With the change to digital programmes, the procurement systems must also bend and become more flexible.

The recommendation 

The plans and strategies were required to be sent to the CDDO from central functions (like procurement) by December 2023. The aim is to highlight the strategy plans to help the buy-in to the long-term digital transformation roadmap aims

Mirrored in the SEND green paper proposals, the move toward digitisation for EHCPs is designed to assist the long-term improvement of the service. The SEND departments should account for and estimate these costs as best they can.

Digital transformation report 2023: Recommendation 6

The issue

There are widespread concerns that the senior leaders in each government department will struggle to maintain their commitment to the digital transformation roadmap due to other pressures and priorities. It is important that the move to digital is recognised as a long-term solution, not a piecemeal change. 

The recommendation 

CDDO has been requested to report their progress in line with the digital transformation roadmap every six months. These regular check-ins are to ensure digital transformation across all government departments stays a priority. 

Each local government department needs access to success metrics and identify how the digital transformation has improved services. 

‘The number of EHCPs we have audited as ‘Inadequate’ has dropped from 29.4% to 1.7%’ Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council. 

How Invision360 is driving the digital transformation for local areas

Using Stockton-on-Tees as an impact case study, Invision360 is helping local authorities improve the quality assurance of the EHCP process by using digital processes to increase quality. 

Ofsted recognised the improvements the local authority has made during a local area SEND inspection and noted: 

‘Leaders have taken effective action to improve the quality of EHCPs. To this end, they have conducted a root-and-branch rebuild of the EHCP process and format.’ 

Invision360 is an online platform designed to significantly improve the quality and efficiency of SEND-related documentation (such as artificial intelligence (AI) EHCP generation (VITA) and quality assurance across EHCPs, PEPs, annual reviews, and professional health advice).

SEND service owners have total visibility of the progress and quality of the EHCPs created. The quality of the EHCP documentation (including healthcare professional advice and outcomes) is benchmarked against other local areas, using nationally recognised SEND standards. 

Hear from our local authority partners about how Invision360 has improved its SEND service offer. 

Our easy-to-use software builds digital skills and knowledge. Each EHCP is scored against recognised SEND standards, ensuring expert SEND knowledge is not required to audit EHCPs effectively. Supporting local areas that experience a high staff turnover, the digital process of generating and auditing the SEND documentation means the process is not lost but easily trackable for SEND department leaders. 

Want to see how Invision360 can help your SEND department make long-term steps towards digital transformation? Book a free demo with our friendly team today. 

More like this: 

Improving EHCP quality: The role of generative AI in supporting EHCPs 

Quality assuring educational psychologist advice for EHC assessments

Unveiling the Local Area SEND inspection scene: navigating national standards, quality and preparation for inspections.