Agenda item

Digital Strategy 2020-2024


The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change presented a report, that sought Cabinet approval to adopt and implement the Digital Strategy 2020-2024, which had taken into consideration public consultation responses.


By way of some background, she confirmed that in 2017, the Welsh Government commissioned the Society of Information Technology Managers (SocITM) Advisory Ltd to establish the digital maturity of all local authorities. It had been identified that while digital maturity was low, appetite to improve was high and a vital prerequisite to meet the Wales National Digital Agenda.


In September 2016 a Digital Transformation Programme of works commenced to primarily introduce a single ‘digital platform’ (My Account) and an accessible website. The Strategy builds on these improvements by further developing how citizens, businesses and visitors engage and transact with the Council.


The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change, advised that as part of the 2019 Budget Consultation, feedback showed that 87% of Bridgend citizens want more Council services online, using better and more modern online functionality to support channel shift as well as self-serve facilities.  Also according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 85% of Bridgend citizens have access to the internet and prefer the convenience of online transactions, as opposed to certain other methods of communication by which to conduct their business.


For the Budget Consultation 2019 and in a separate Digital Survey undertaken between June and August 2019, the public were asked for feedback on current digital capabilities provided to them by the Council, as well as suggestions to further enhance its services. The results have been incorporated into the assessment and delivery model and were included, at Appendix A to the report.


Turning to the current position, the Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change stated that, an ambitious four year Digital Strategy had been drafted which encapsulates Bridgend’s well-being objectives, the national digital landscape and includes a matrix of measurements utilised by SocITM to assess Bridgend’s digital maturity and growth. The Strategy had been divided into 3 key areas, namely Digital Citizen, Digital Council and Digital Place.


Each section has an allocated action plan, with dedicated owners to ensure the ambitions of the Strategy are achieved by 2024. 


The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change continued, by confirming that one of the aims within the Digital Strategy is to streamline routine and repetitive processes, delivering end-to-end connections to back office systems with the ambition of delivering efficiencies through digital automation, in order to enhance service delivery.


The Council’s Digital Principles have been developed to underpin the foundations of the Five Ways of Working within the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act, aligning a “Digital First” approach and encapsulating the good practice principles identified by SocITM. Further information regarding this, was outlined in paragraph 4.4 of the report.


In respect of the report’s financial implications, the Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change, advised that there were established Earmarked Reserves to support both the revenue and capital aspects of Digital Transformation. The current budget available is £407,000 (revenue) and £520,000 (capital).


During the delivery of the digital programme, business cases will be developed to be approved by Corporate Management Board ahead of any future development works.


The Deputy Leader stated that this was an exciting piece of news, as there was a big demand for Digital services that would rise expedientially in future years, including over the life of the Strategy. The Strategy would allow  customers the opportunity to engage with the Authority in a more modern and innovative way, including out of normal office hours. The Strategy would also track the demand for different digital type services moving forward, that customers wish to be made available, by which to conduct their business and other queries, etc.


The Cabinet Member – Future Generations and Wellbeing confirmed that digitally speaking and in terms of advancing the Council’s website, BCBC had improved considerably in the last few years. She was pleased to see that the Digital Strategy was a corporate strategy that also accounted for individuals who were digitally excluded also. She extended her thanks to the ICT and Communications teams for all their hard work in recent months, particularly during the pandemic, where effective engagement between the Council and others had continued, including crucially with our most vulnerable in society.


The Leader was pleased to note, that the BCBC web site had been recognised by an accreditation, for both its user friendly accessibility and in terms of what it offers the public at large. The Strategy was also a flexible document, to take account of any potential fast moving changes that undoubtedly would take place in the future, with regards to the developments of technology. More than ever before, large organisations were now reliant on ICT and no local public body could function in this day and age, without an effective and reliable digital platform. He hoped to see further progress reports coming before Cabinet on the development of the Digital Strategy.


The Cabinet Member – Social Services and Early Help, welcomed the Strategy and the “One front Door” policy the Council had introduced as part of this. She added however, that it was important for management to take on board, that not all of the Council’s constituents wished to engage with the Authority by electronic means. Therefore, provision still had to made for these individuals. She also felt that records should also be digitally archived as a safeguard for maintaining record keeping electronically.    


RESOLVED:                             That Cabinet approved the Digital Strategy 2020-2024, attached at Appendix B to the report.


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