Woman In Gloves With Laptop And Bill Trying To Keep Warm By Radiator During Cost Of Living Energy Crisis
© Katie Nesling

As the UK faces a crippling cost of living crisis, adopting digital transformation in the government could empower active problem-solving

In recent years, the UK has faced some of its most difficult challenges. We’ve continued to see those challenges multiply as energy prices skyrocket, the cost of living crisis and a recession looms ahead. However, one thing remains plain: things are going to get worse and will disproportionately affect those most vulnerable.

Divulging power to local authorities and communities

Throughout the pandemic, we saw what happens when centralised approaches to complex problems fail and what can happen to devolve power and decision-making. In places where good local leadership and strong collaboration exist, local networks have delivered more joined-up public services for years.

From setting up and delivering food parcels for those in need to building digital directories of all local services, communities were supported, building and delivering new services in mere days and weeks. This demonstrates the power of local thinking and partnerships forged between organisations and communities to enable quick and personalised solutions.

To truly address the cost of living crisis, we have to start from a place of understanding people’s real needs. That might mean urgently getting funding out to organisations that already have insight into local needs and are best placed to provide solutions or create new grants to help people bring new, climate-friendly technology into their homes. Working with networks of organisations like food banks, GPs and local businesses will enable effective collaboration to empower active problem-solving.

The opportunities presented by digital and technology

While many government organisations have modernised, they’ve not yet been fully technologically transformed. Digital transformation strategies adopting holistic, people-centred solutions and digital-by-default approaches will create organisations and services designed to respond in an ever-changing world.

For example, we worked with Hackney Council to create an accessible service underpinned by flexible modern technology. This reduced friction between staff and legacy systems in the council’s benefits and housing departments. Having intuitive interfaces that are efficient and less stressful can deliver support to those that urgently need it.

But a digital government and digital services are more than just a new website or SMS messaging systems for residents. Of course, they’re important but only continue siloed improvements when not met with the technology mindset: new ways of working and devolved power.

The future of the public sector

Citizens in need of resources and support, and a dire need to simplify complex systems, are not unique problems to the cost of living crisis. We see similar problems arise where people, for example, access support with social care, housing, education, and integrated care.

To truly support people through crisis or through any period of need in their lives, we need radically new approaches that break down barriers between bureaucracy and community. We need to consider local authorities as enablers and conveners with the influence and power to lead, connect and empower.

A future-thinking, the thriving public sector will be built around a technologically-enabled people-focused system. A system where public services are targeted, efficient and much less stressful to navigate.

This piece was written by Jen Byrne, Managing Director at TPXimpact


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