On Thursday came the official announcement that we'd been awarded the maximum £80,000 from the Local Digital Fund to progress the rollout of our income management system, nationally!

We made our bid to the fund back in August, on the premise that the income management function within council's was uncessarily burdened by legacy software products and that our in-house development could make a real difference as it has done in Barnsley.

We proposed to spend some money investigating the claim that by allowing other council's to use our system they too could save time and money as we have - and that those savings, when scaled nationally, would add up significantly for the public sector as a whole.

The money is effectively awarded to us on a speculate to accumulate basis - the idea that by spending £80K now, we can potentially save hundreds of thousands of pounds from the public purse overall.

And so, over the coming weeks and months we'll be running a Discovery project that will research:

  • whether there is a market for an alternative Income Management system to those legacy products already out there
  • what are the user needs for a good Income Management product amongst local authorities?
  • whether our income management system meets the needs of other council's or have we built it too specific to our needs and set up - what do they need that we haven't thought about?
  • whether changes can be made to our income management system where gaps are identified in it meeting the user needs of other councils - what might those changes be?
  • whether our income management system can integrate successfully with GOV.UK Pay to offer a more holistic solution for accepting income and then processing it
  • if an income management system could be built and shared within the public sector, what is the best way to ensure a cost-effective, well-supported solution for council's?
  • Etc.

In doing this, we are the lead in a collaboration of 6 council's (Barnsley, Sheffield, Allerdale, Cherwell & South Northamptonshire, North East Lincolnshire and Huntingdonshire) and the GOV.UK Pay Product Team. There's also keen interest from West Berkshire, Hackney and Oxfordshire.

Our first step will be to recruit a delivery manager - someone familiar with running Discovery projects within the guidance set out by the conditions of the fund. They'll produce all the necessary documentation and coordinate research workshops with key stakeholders in our partner organisations over a 12 week period.

I expect it'll take us 4-6 weeks to source that person and so we should be seeing results from the project early in the New Year. Watch this space!