Headlines: March 7th, 2005

The government is calling on local authorities to focus in the next year on realising the full potential of Local e-Government. The call has been made with the publication of the second annual report on the National Strategy for Local e-Government by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.The document details key areas of progress and identifies what still needs to be done to meet the December 2005 local e-government target. The report builds on feedback from local authorities on their implementation strategies.

It highlights a number of significant achievements, including the fact that the average local council is now 79 per cent e-enabled, compared to an average of 59 per cent a year ago. More than three quarters of all ‘required’ and ‘good’ priority outcomes are being actively implemented and the report says more than 250 different products have been produced by local authorities for local authorities through the National Projects programme.

In more than 100 councils local people can already go online to submit planning applications, check their Council Tax balance and calculate benefits. Onsite implementation support has been provided to around 50 Councils through the work of the support and capacity programme with the Improvement & Development Agency.

In the coming financial year councils in England will each receive 150,000 pounds in capital grant to help them deliver local e-government. In this final year of the programme, the focus will be on realising the full benefits of e-government by addressing value for money, local take up and organisational change.

Local e-Government Minister Phil Hope said the report showed the tremendous progress that councils have made under the sponsorship of the National Strategy. He added, “If local e-government is to make a genuine and sustainable contribution to the improvement of public services, then the next twelve months must see us driving through the benefits of our investment to make a real ndifference to the lives of ordinary people.”