To help applicants, previously answered questions about Future Councils have been anonymised and published on this page.
If you have a question about applying to the Future Councils pilot, you can contact the Local Digital team at email@example.com.
|How specific do we need to be on Question 9 of the application form? Do we need to provide example projects/pilots the fund could support us on, or is it meant to be more general? For example how the fund could support us generally with our whole transformation agenda.||Your answer can be more general, and you do not necessarily need to name specific projects or pilots, though you can if they feel relevant in supporting your answer.
In this section, we are looking for:
|We are assessing our fit and readiness for Future Councils, and we feel the programme would be a good fit with our published Digital & Technology Strategy. How many of our initiatives need to be underway?||We are looking to understand both the scale of work currently being undertaken within your council and the level of commitment to investing in this transformation activity. Therefore, showing initiatives that are in progress, or are yet to start, still shows commitment.
We are also interested in understanding the types of projects that are waiting for funding.
|What is the likely resource required from a council’s perspective and timeframe?||As part of the pilot phase and our partnership, we will work to understand how to collaborate together in a way that minimises impact to BAU service delivery.
As part of the pilot phase, participating councils will receive grants of up to £750,000 to work with us for an initial period of 6 months. We are likely to consider extending this period further with additional funding. We are open to discussing how that can be used to bring on additional resource or backfill existing roles. At the same time, we would like participating councils to be able to dedicate staff to this work who are likely to take ownership of it. We believe this will be important for successful delivery and will also mean that skills gained during the programme are retained within your organisation.
|What are we able to use the funding for? For example, could we bring in external suppliers for delivery?||As part of the Future Councils programme, we want to support improvement projects across these five themes: cyber security, staff skills, systems and software, user experience of digital services and back-end processes for council staff. There is a more detailed list of projects in paragraph 20 of the application guidance.
You can use the funding for external suppliers. As this is a pilot, we will be working with you to understand how to work together in a way that minimises impact to BAU service delivery. We will agree with each council what the funding could be used for. This could cover training, specialist suppliers, or to fund specific projects that would otherwise be difficult for the council to prioritise.
Please note, as per the 'ability to deliver' section in the assessment criteria, that we are looking for evidence of willingness to embed skills into the organisation and an openness to different ways of achieving this.
|How many stakeholders could be required to allocate time, either as a digital champions group and dedicated resource? I'm in a cybersecurity role.||We cannot give a definite answer in terms of numbers of stakeholders, as it will depend on your organisation and the projects that are agreed at your organisation. There is no specific ask around getting a certain number of digital champions across your organisation, for example.
However, organisation buy-in and stakeholder involvement are important for success. As part of the application form, we ask you to demonstrate what you have done to engage with and seek support from your wider organisation and senior level stakeholders for being part of the Future Councils pilot.
|Would it be appropriate to look at projects that not only seek to push forward an existing programme but also seek to identify cost savings and efficiencies that make the digital transformation delivered viable - for example, self-funding or delivering savings once the cost of any hardware or software is netted off?||Yes, this is an area we would be interested in.|
|Will applications that make reference to using the outputs of projects already funded by the Local Digital Fund be scored higher?||No. We are looking for councils who are committed to delivering digital and cyber transformation across these five themes: cyber security, staff skills, systems and software, user experience of digital services and back-end processes for council staff. Using the outputs of projects already funded by the Local Digital Fund could be a good example of this.|
|Are there any limitations or requirements for how the funding can be spent? Should we be looking at systems that are public-facing, or more general improvement within the council?||We would be interested in funding both public and internal-facing projects related to the themes outlined in our application guidance.
We will agree with each council what the funding could be used for.
|We are looking at one project in particular, which is a large-scale change initiative linked to data and intelligence using digital transformation as an enabler. Would we be scored lower if we focused our application on a single pilot idea we have, or should we be including a variety of other pilot areas?||During the pilot, we will partner with councils to make digital and cyber improvements across their organisations, reform key services, and influence organisation-wide factors that can unblock change. We will agree with each council what the funding could be used for. This will include work across the council focused on the following five themes: cyber security, staff skills, systems and software, user experience of digital services and back-end processes for council staff.
We will be looking for evidence that you are committed to work across these five themes rather than in one area, and that you are committed to investing in organisational change.
|In the application form, Question 11 asks about establishing staff within the 'organisation’s Future Councils team'. Can you explain what you mean by that?||We are looking for people from across the council to be involved in and leading aspects of projects funded through Future Councils - this doesn’t necessarily mean creating a new team.
Most importantly, we are looking for evidence of willingness to embed skills into the organisation and an openness to different ways of achieving this.
|Our IT service is run in partnership with a neighbouring authority, so any work on cyber security would need to be done jointly with them. However our transformation programmes are separate. How do you suggest we proceed with our application?||You will need to apply as a single council for the programme. As part of the application form, we ask you to demonstrate what you have done to engage with and seek support from your wider organisation and senior level stakeholders.
We would suggest that staff from the neighbouring authority that you share an IT service with will be important stakeholders to collaborate with, and it would be useful to see evidence of their commitment in your application as well. If you were to be successful in your application, we would seek to explore how we can support transformation in a shared IT service environment.
|Is the diversity of councils in relation to size, geography, type of council, current maturity, or all of these things?||Once applications have been assessed and moderated, and before funding decisions are made, we may exercise discretion to ensure a fair spread of projects across England, and that we have a variety of different types and size of council.
This will help us to achieve some level of diversity for the pilot phase.
|The application form asks more about what we've done than how we might use grant funding. What is the reason for this?||We will be assessing how well the Future Councils programme will fit alongside and complement existing change activity within the council.
We will partner with councils participating in the pilot to support projects related to the five themes outlined in our application guidance. If projects are already underway in the council, our hope is that Future Councils funding will complement these, support transformation across the council and develop replicable pathways that other councils can use themselves.
|I have a question about scope. Our application could cover our whole digital futures programme or focus on one of the sub-projects, but would you prefer to hear about the wider scope, and could it earn us a higher evaluation?||We'd like to hear about the range of digital projects and transformation activity happening across the council - as Future Councils is focused on driving organisation-wide change.
Pilot funding could complement existing projects or ideas, support transformation across the council and develop replicable pathways that other councils can use.
|We are applying on behalf of two district councils who work together in a formal collaboration. We are two independent councils, but we have a single officer team and all of our digital transformation is shared. Can we submit from one council on behalf of both? We have a single CEX, management team, IT team and so on.||Yes, if you have a single team for digital transformation then one application for the Future Councils pilot is fine.|
|We don’t have specific projects for each of the five themes. Could we instead detail how aspects of our projects fit into the different themes? Will this work?||Understanding how you've incorporated the five themes within a service area or as part of other service improvements would definitely be examples of them in action. Do take a look at the assessment criteria to make sure that you're hitting the key elements we're looking to understand as part of this.|
|On our application under 'investing in systems and software', are specific figures required for what we have spent to date?||For each of the five themes, we are interested in understanding the scale of work being undertaken within the council and the level of commitment to investing in this transformation activity. We do not require specific spend figures, but spend could be used as evidence of the work being undertaken. Do take a look at the criteria in the application guidance for more information.|