Future Councils

Introducing the Future Councils programme

In March 2023, we launched Future Councils – a new programme to support local authorities across England to become modern and resilient.

During the current pilot, we are funding 8 councils to make digital and cyber improvements across their organisations, reform key services, and influence organisation-wide factors that can unblock change.

You can read more about the pilot of Future Councils on this page.

What will happen during the pilot

Our vision for Future Councils is to create the conditions for modern, resilient councils.

The 8 councils involved in the pilot have been given £750,000 each to address the three common challenges Local Digital has identified through its work and conversations with councils across England. These are:

  • how to influence the organisation-wide factors (such as internal processes, leadership and governance) that can unblock change
  • how to make digital and cyber improvements across the whole organisation, rather than just one team or area
  • how to reform services, including the big, critical services, which are riskier and harder to change

Benefits for councils outside of the pilot

We are working with the 8 councils to make these changes across their organisation, and understand what further support they need to do this. If successful, our goal will be to create replicable pathways that other councils might follow.

The councils are expected to share what they learn openly, and any replicable pathways and reusable artefacts will be made available to other councils to apply in their own setting.

How to get involved in the programme

We are piloting Future Councils with a small cohort of councils in order to test and iterate our approach. We plan to offer further opportunities for other local authorities to join Future Councils later in 2023.
Subscribe to the Local Digital newsletter to hear about opportunities to partner with us beyond this phase.

Follow the progress of Future Councils

We are publishing regular updates on the progress of the pilot on our Medium account.

For more updates on Future Councils:

We’ll also update this web page with more information about the programme as it progresses.

Future Councils timeline

25 October 2022

Applications opened for the pilot of Future Councils. Read more about the launch of Future Councils in this blog post.

2 November 2022

We held a dedicated Q&A on the #dluhc-future-councils Slack channel in the LocalGovDigital workspace on Wednesday 2 November.

18 November 2022

Applications closed Friday 18 November 2022 at 5:30pm.

7 and 8 December 2022

We invited the 12 councils with the highest scores to attend a panel interview, to help us better understand their applications and suitability for the pilot.

7 March 2023

We announced the 8 councils that we will be partnering with for the pilot of Future Councils.

25 May 2023

We published the first in a series of regular updates on the progress of the pilot.

30 June 2023

We published the second Future Councils update on the progress of the pilot. Find out how we’ve restructured the team and what happened in our first whole cohort session.

9 August 2023

We published the third Future Councils update on the progress of the pilot. Find out how we’re understanding council pain points and what we’ve learnt so far.

7 September 2023

We’ve been working closely with the pilot councils to explore the root causes behind what’s blocking them from becoming modern and resilient. Together, we have developed 6 problem statements which summarise the systemic challenges councils are facing. Learn more about how we developed the statements in this blog post.

We now want to validate the problem statements and identify scalable opportunities to help the sector as a whole. We aim to do this by gathering feedback from councils beyond the pilot cohort at a series of Roundtable events.

Find out more and register for one of our Future Councils Roundtable events:

If you are part of the wider sector, or cannot attend one of our events, you can share your feedback on the problem statements via the forms on our website. You can also read the problem statements on this page.

How we're measuring the impact of Future Councils

To understand the impact of our support and how we can improve and iterate it over time, we have commissioned an independent evaluation of the Future Councils programme.

To do this, we are measuring councils’ digital and cyber standing before the programme, and seeing how that develops over time.

We have issued short surveys to some councils who have participated in the programme, and to some who haven’t, and we will also be running interviews, workshops and feedback sessions to understand the impact.

Initial findings will be shared in Autumn 2023.

Learn more about the evaluation study