|Can you provide more clarity on the collaboration between two other councils. For example, if I wanted to run a project that overhauls customer forms, do I need to find two other councils that want to do the same thing on the same platform?||You will need to find two other councils who want to do the same thing in their organisations. However, it doesn’t necessarily need to be the same platform if what your project aims to do is platform agnostic.|
|Are there any types of project that you won’t fund? Are there any common mistakes or things you haven’t funded in the past to avoid?||We are open to all ideas, however we would recommend looking at previous funded projects on our website and reading the criteria set out in the Local Digital Fund Prospectus before applying.|
|Would you consider working with a software supplier as a strategic partnership?||Our approach is to fund council led projects. The projects themselves can choose to work with software suppliers in their chosen way. For example, Netcall worked closely with Newcastle City Councils on their Community Grants Service, providing staff training as well software platform and cross service system integration architecture. Placecube have worked closely with Rugby Borough Council on their Digital Waste Service by providing the platform, developers and user researchers.|
|Are we at a disadvantage if we apply for a beta without having had a discovery or alpha funded? ||No, applicants will be reviewed equally. If you’ve already carried out discovery and alpha, regardless of whether it was funded by Local Digital or not, we will be happy to receive an application for beta. In your application you should link to evidence from discovery and alpha. We will be looking for such evidence, for example user research, links to prototypes and other outputs.|
|What are the expectations for councils contributing funds? Up to what project value will the fund support?||We don’t expect councils to match the funding however we want to see your commitment to delivering the project. You can apply for up to £100,000 for discovery, up to £180,000 for alpha and up to £350,000 for beta. You can find more information in the Local Digital Fund Prospectus.|
|Will projects relating to adult social care be considered and is there anything within adult social care that will or won't be funded?||Yes. There are no specific projects that we wouldn’t fund, but please make sure that what you’re proposing meets the criteria set out in the Local Digital Fund Prospectus. For example, if you are proposing buying lots of hardware to give to people, we’re unlikely to fund this as there are no scalable benefits.|
|Will you fund new software pilots?||Yes we would consider new software pilots. This may be suitable for an alpha (or prototyping) project where there is a clear and common need.|
|Are we able to apply for funding that spans several phases i.e. a discovery and an alpha for one project?||No, the Local Digital Fund is only for one phase. However, funded projects that demonstrate impact and the potential to deliver greater benefits may be invited by DLUHC to apply for further funding via the Continuous Funding Model.|
|Is the funding capital or one-off?||Funding is provided as a grant under Section 31 of the Local Government Act and should be treated as revenue funding. There is no guarantee of future funding but funded projects that demonstrate impact and the potential to deliver greater benefits may be invited by DLUHC to apply for further funding via the Continuous Funding Model.|
|Can you combine bids for different projects? Or would they need to be submitted as two separate bids? ||No. These would need to be submitted as two separate bids.|
|If we are struggling to collaborate/match up with another council, could you support us to match if you see any common themes?||There are a number of ways to get support with finding partners, including using LocalGov Digital Slack (register for access via https://localgov.digital/membership) and #LocalDigitalFund on Twitter. We can help share your proposal idea via our comms channels to support you to find partner councils.|
|Are the collaborators implicitly other councils? For adult social care, it would be useful to have other partners as collaborators e.g. partner organisations in integrated care boards (ICBs)||You can have other organisations as partners (charities, ICBs, other government departments etc.), however you will need to have at least two other council partners to be eligible.|
|Would you consider digital pathways looking at demand/channel shifting?||We would be happy to receive applications for this type of project, if they meet the criteria set out in the Local Digital Fund Prospectus.|
|Do applications need to be citizen facing? Would you consider funding staff-facing work (as users)?||No applications don’t need to be citizen facing, we will consider funding staff-facing projects subject to meeting the criteria set out in the Local Digital Fund Prospectus.|
|Within the application, should you focus on the problem(s) facing the lead council or is there an expectation to include the same level of detail for the partner councils?||We would expect your application to demonstrate that this is a common issue and use evidence from partners to demonstrate the scale of the issue.|
|Is there appetite for funding behaviour change work?||We expect behaviour change to be more of a secondary output for Local Digital Fund projects. However, it is something we want to tackle more broadly in Future Councils and more information will be shared on this programme shortly.|
|Can districts/boroughs collaborate with county councils?||Yes. There are no restrictions on this.|
|I noticed that historically the fund hasn't funded a lot of digital inclusion projects (Leeds Council the exception), are you open to funding this kind of work?||Yes.|
|How long does it take to sign up to the Local Digital Declaration?||Once you decide on your declaration commitment and fill out the online form this initiates the process. After that, it can take 24-48 hours to sign the declaration and publish the new signatory council on our website.|
|Is there appetite to fund policy related work?||We would be happy to receive applications for this type of project, if they meet the criteria set out in the Local Digital Fund Prospectus.|
|If successful, would the lead authority manage the budget and be able to procure partners?||The lead authority will receive the grant. Partners should agree on the approach to using the funds, which may include the lead authority passing portions of the funding on to partners for them to undertake their own procurement or to compensate for backfill etc.|
|Is there a way to join funded projects that are already in flight if we are interested in them?||The Local Digital website contains information about all of our funded projects and the contact details for their respective leads. Please contact them directly or via LocalGov Digital Slack. For any queries, please email email@example.com.|
|If a project has gone before that is similar to what we want to do - can we link to that with new funding or is it just for new initiatives only?||If it is an existing project that is active, we would encourage you to contact the lead authority and explore joining the project as a partner (in this scenario you would only be able to receive funding if the lead authority paid you directly). As a new lead authority you could use the deliverables/insight/MVP to assist in making a fresh application in a LDF funding round. If there is a different focus to the existing project, this would also be a fresh application. You can find previously funded projects on our website.|
|If internal resources are too limited to commit to the ongoing project, can the funding be used for an external project manager to run it?||Yes. Funding could also be used to backfill council staff.|
|Would you fund something in the waste area or LoraWaN or similar network related projects?||Yes. We are open to receiving applications in the waste area, if they have a different focus than previously funded projects. You can find previously funded projects on our website.
Network related projects are in scope, if they can demonstrate that they meet the criteria set out in the Local Digital Fund Prospectus.
|If a project isn't suitable for funding under this fund, can you point us in the direction of other possible funding opportunities?||We encourage councils to sign up to the Local Government Bulletin that regularly provides updates on new funding opportunities as well as information on new regulations and guidance for local government. You can sign up via this webform or by emailing LGEngagement@levellingup.gov.uk.|
|We’re currently funded by the Changing Futures programme. We are looking at legacy solutions that will sit within a county council. Should we make an application under the umbrella of Changing Futures or on behalf of services?||We will provide an answer for this question shortly.|
|What do successful applicants tend to spend the funding on? Additional staff, consultancy advice, specialist software etc.||This depends on the needs of the project. Some projects choose to spend the funding to backfill staff roles, buy in only the necessary specialist skills (such as user researcher or technical architect), whilst others prefer to bring in a delivery partner that provides the majority of skills needed.
Please note, you cannot fully outsource the project to a delivery partner. A successful application should demonstrate that your proposed project team has adequate representation from all council partners.
|Does a shared service between two councils count as one or two collaborators?||As it is two councils, this would count as two collaborators.|
|Would it be possible to include further user research or design in a beta that we didn’t include in our alpha?||Yes. In your application, please specify which design activities still need to be completed, the time and effort required and what proportion of funding would be allocated to Alpha activities. It is expected that user research will take place in beta.|
|In our application is it okay to explore how partners might use the beta product, or would you expect them to have implemented it as part of the project?||We do not expect all project partners to be in a position to adopt the beta product as soon as it is built. Project partners may wish to contribute to the Beta project in other ways whilst exploring how the end product might be used by them in the future.|
|Would you consider funding digital essentials training for the collaborating councils?||Yes. Training can be included in your project costs.|
|Please can you share some advice on how much information you want for the delivery plan, resource plan, etc.||We encourage you to provide as much detail as possible in your application. For your delivery plan, we recommend you provide a high level overview of activities, milestones and what tranches of work you expect to undertake. For resources, we recommend you list each resource in as much detail as possible.|
|We cannot decide which type of application to submit for our project. Could you advise?||We recommend looking at what kind of evidence you have available to provide in your application, as you will need to provide evidence for previously completed project stages. For guidance on what we expect to see from each project stage, please see point 21 inthe Local Digital Fund Prospectus. If in doubt, we recommend you put in an application for a less advanced project stage.|
|Is there a time limit on when an approved application needs to spend its funding by?||Previously we expected an approved application to start within 3 months of notification, but we have taken the view that a range of start dates will enable us to avoid clustering of projects, beginning and ending simultaneously.
We consider a Discovery as 4 to 6 week project, an Alpha 3 months and a Beta 6 months.
|How important is it to use funding to grow digital capacity and understanding within project councils?||We would like to see applications that aim to grow digital capability within their councils as part of the project. For example, this could be demonstrated by including a ‘skills transfer’ clause into procurement documentation, setting aside some budget for training or backfilling staff posts so that they have the time to acquire new skills.|
|Can we propose a project that builds a product on Power Apps and Microsoft Dynamics platform?||Yes, you can. However, you should make it explicit how you'll make the product reusable for others. This may include openly sharing the code base and configuration, producing guidance on replicating your product and providing support to other councils who wish to make use of your work.|
|Could you clarify if the requirement for an open licence applies to the project output or any software?||Open license requirement applies to all outputs the project aims to produce. If you intend to create new software or improve existing software as part of your project, it will be classed as an 'output' and, therefore, should be made available under an open licence.|
|If the private sector has developed an innovative new system that seems to be a big improvement on existing systems, they won't agree an open licence for the software, so for Round 6 funding, is it sufficient to share the output of the project only?||This depends on what the output is. If you're simply looking to implement existing private sector software in your service, this is unlikely to meet funding criteria set out in the Fund Prospectus. The criteria states that The Local Digital Fund aims to support digital service transformation in a collaborative and joined up way that benefits the wider local government sector. Project proposals will need to demonstrate how their projects will benefit the wider sector.|
|Our council took part in the alpha pilot and would like to do a private beta test. Our concerns are, that the service is already dealing with a large backlog of applications but we do not have the resources to test a system that although may well will fix this, could resolve difficulties for the service nationally. Is there anything that you could advise on with regards to this?||We encourage council project partners to share all aspects of project delivery, including testing of the system. Having at least 3 councils taking part in the project and testing the system should ensure it is fit for purpose and can meet the needs of councils nationwide.|
|Can we support and lead on multiple bids?||Each local authority can apply to lead, or be a partner on, as many projects as they can actively support (please see Eligibility Criteria of the Local Digital Fund prospectus).|
|Are there plans for further rounds of funding?||The Local Digital programme is currently backed by multi-year funding to the tune of £85 million. We plan to continue funding collaborative council projects through the Local Digital Fund, however, we are unable to say when the next round of funding will open.|
|How can I get notified of future funding rounds?||We communicate new funding opportunities via our comms channels - newsletter, Twitter account and sprint notes on Medium.
You're welcome to subscribe to our channels to be the first to hear about the next round of funding.