Local government digital innovation funding and new models
LOTI’s Covid Innovation Fund and MHCLG changes approach to Local Digital Fund
This month we have seen London Office of Technology and Innovation (LOTI) allocate funding to London boroughs for digital and data innovations to support the response to the pandemic, and a move to a new model of digital innovation funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) on how it manages the Local Digital Fund.
LOTI’s Covid Innovation Fund
In December 2020 LOTI launched the Covid Innovation Fund, which will make £150,000 available to help London boroughs work together to design and put in place measures that address COVID-related challenges. It has since awarded two local authorities £75,000 each to projects to support the response to the pandemic.
LOTI’s mission is to catalyse collaboration between boroughs and one of the reasons of the fund is to identify the best means to get boroughs to actively work together on common projects. There were eight submissions to the Covid Innovation Fund submissions and you can read them here. The two submissions awarded funding focus on digital exclusion and supporting vulnerable residents in partnership with councils and local voluntary organisations.
Tackling digital exclusion involves Barnet, Brent, Kensington and Chelsea, Southwark and Westminster councils and covers the development of an interactive demographic map of user needs. Developing and delivering new approaches to preventative support for vulnerable residents was put forward by Newham and Hackney council. The project aims to design and put in place more preventative measures to help ensure residents whose vulnerabilities have been exacerbated by the pandemic avoid reaching crisis point.
MHCLG’s Local Digital Fund
MHCLG’s Local Digital Collaboration Unit (LDCU) which manages the Local Digital Fund recently blogged towards a move away from the current round based approach, under which the funding is allocated to several projects at six-monthly intervals, to a continuous funding model. It shares reflections on the funding process so far and noted that the Local Digital Fund at six-month intervals has had some unintended consequences, such as rushing to meet a deadline while others finished their projects months ahead of the next round of funding was due to open. To keep momentum and continuity, the funding process is being changed to a continuous funding model so it doesn’t unwittingly speed up or slow down progress.
The LDCU said that it is not yet sure on whether it will continue to run open rounds for applications, and any further announcements have to take into consideration planning and budgets for the coming financial year.
LDCU are keen to hear from teams who have been facing similar challenges and have come up with new funding and governance models to support public sector innovation, and can email their thoughts and experiences to email@example.com.
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