Exploring barriers to online engagement with council services


  1. Project outputs
  2. Project timeline

All councils are facing the challenge of encouraging residents to transact online, however, this is a more prominent issue in areas where there is increased digital exclusion. 

This discovery, led by South Ribble Borough Council, will conduct an investigation into the requirements needed for residents to access council services, with the aim of streamlining or removing unnecessary sign-in requirements. 

Both councils and residents will benefit from this project, as an increase in the number of online transactions will reduce the number of face-to-face, telephone and email interactions.

As a result, this will allow council officers more time to provide face-to-face and telephone resources for those who are vulnerable or have complex needs. 

This transition to online interaction will also improve digital inclusivity across the area.

Project outputs

The documents that will be made available as a result of the project will include:

  • a business case which will outline estimated cost and cost effectiveness, a risk register and anticipated benefits
  • a user research report that will consider the current and proposed customer experience, whilst understanding what the user’s needs are
  • a report of market research completed to define which tasks can be done without logging in whilst maintaining safe and secure standards

Project timeline

March 2023

The project is awarded £35,175  in funding through Round 6 of the Local Digital Fund to begin a discovery phase.

April 2023

South Ribble’s project team have agreed to meet w/c 8 May following their kick-off meeting. They will discuss their findings from the meeting and scope out the requirements for procurement, in particular a user researcher.

May 2023

The team met to discuss their requirements from a user researcher. They’ve agreed to spend the next sprint engaging with some local user research companies to discuss how they might approach the project, in order to put a specification together and complete procurement.

July 2023

During this sprint, members of the project team attended training sessions provided by DLUHC on topics such as procurement and agile working.

They are continuing to explore the options for a User Researcher to join the project and have arranged a call with James Rosenberg and Egle Shaw from Local Digital to gain a better understanding of how to plan research effectively and make the most of a User Researcher’s expertise.

August 2023

During the recent sprint, the project team has been collaborating closely with their procurement team to determine the most suitable method for acquiring a user researcher. They have identified a method they’d like to proceed with and are currently working to establish a partner. They have engaged in productive discussions with potential partners and provided them with the details to produce a quote.

Due to the holiday season, the team faced some challenges engaging with potential suppliers this month. As a result, they have scheduled follow-up meetings for the week beginning 5 September. Throughout this sprint, the team will be available to address any inquiries from suppliers as they work towards finalising the partnership.

September 2023

Over the past two weeks, the project team have been clarifying queries that have been raised in response to their user research procurement.

Due to holidays, the team granted an extension for submitting quotes, now set until 15 September.

October 2023

The project team has reached the stage of awarding the User Researcher contract and the supplier has been contacted. The contract is now in the process of being reviewed and approved by both the council’s and the supplier’s legal teams.

In the next sprint, their focus is to gain final approval on the contracts and ensure they are signed. They also plan to schedule a kick-off meeting between the supplier and partner councils. This is expected to take place during the week beginning 6 November due to annual leave and the availability of council representatives.