Headlines: December 17th, 2003

Two thirds of English local councils expect to be e-enabled by March next year and most authorities are making good progress towards the 2005 target date for electronic enabling of services. Those are the key results of the IEG – Implementing e-Government – Round 3 statements, announced by the Government.Only 35 of the 399 local authorities asked to submit statements, were judged to have made unsatisfactory returns. They are being asked to re-submit by early February. The figures were welcomed by Local e-Government Minister Phil Hope, who said they showed councils were on track to meet the 2005 target. Recent months had seen the real benefits e-government could bring with Pathfinders and Partnerships transforming services across local government.

The Government has also published the first-year report on the National Strategy looking at what’s been achieved so far. It uses several case studies to highlight the impact e-Government is having on local services. They include a scheme in Sussex called CADDIE, the Crime and Disorder Data Exchange. This is a collaboration between the police and the local council and was set up to tackle the fear of crime and reduce crime and disorder. It uses technology to allow information sharing between emergency services and other agencies.

Another of the report’s examples of e-Government changing lives and transforming services comes from Kirklees Metropolitan Borough. There the council is improving access for socially excluded residents to health information and services. The authority is working in partnership with Primary Care Trusts and community service providers to make health service information available through digital television.

Commenting on the report, “National Strategy for Local e-Government – One Year On” Phil Hope said, it had to be remembered that e-Government was not an end in itself. The improvements were about people and services, and the report showed what progress councils and their partners were making towards transforming a broad range of services.

The Government is also launching a consultation on the proposed specification for e-Government priority outcomes for every local authority by December 2005. These will clarify what functions local people can expect to undertake electronically with their councils by 2005.

To help authorities in meeting the 2005 target, the IdeA will be providing additional support to those councils that either need guidance with individual elements of their e-Government programmes or are struggling to make progress with the overall e-Government agenda.