Our Head of IT (Dave) and I met with colleagues from the Local Gov Collaboration Unit (part of the Ministry of Housing, Culture and Local Government) and the Gov.UK Pay Product Team (part of the Government Digital Service) today - specifically Ben Cheetham, Adam Thoulass, Egle Uzkuraityte, Katie Bates, Miriam Raines and Richard Blake joined via Google Hangout.
We wanted to discuss our vision for our Income Management Solution, how a rollout might work and how we might be supported with the collaborative aspects of making it happen. We're really proud of our software and we believe very much in the #FixThePlumbing ethos. We just feel we need help to "get it out there".
So as the Local Government Collaboration Unit are running the Local Digital initiative - a growing community of organisations working together with a shared vision to deliver more user-centred, cost-effective local public services through open, collaborative and reusable work - we thought it the best place to start.
We co-signed the Local Digital Declaration in 2018 which the initiative is drawn together around and we watched with interest as Minister Rishi Sunak announced the funding made available to provide training to all signatories and to support selected collaborative projects.
So far 16 collaborative projects have been funded, one of which was a discovery into using GOV.UK Pay as a viable alternative e-payment provider in local government. One of the main findings of that project was that council's are in need of a "good" income management solution and so we're in the right place and the right time.
Logically then, we left the session with ambitious plans to submit a bid for funding in the next round that's anticipated to open in September of this year. Bids are most likely to be successful if they're are submitted collaboratively with other declaration signatories, have an amount of match funding included (which can be people) and have a solid plan for the outcomes they hope to deliver.
In our case then, we want to run a discovery project with other councils to identify what we need to do to take our income management solution from an internal Barnsley MBC product, to an externally available cloud offer that other organisations can sign up to and use with minimal impact and minimum cost - a plan that is aligned the ethos of the whole initiative and could provide significant benefit.
So, between now and September I'll be hopefully speaking with interested council's and working together with them to craft that bid. If you're interested, please do drop me a line or join the #income-management thread on the Local Gov Digital Slack channel.