Grant funding for data experts work towards better use of local data

Local Data Expert Programme

Applications from English local authorities are being sought for grant funding to develop projects that encourage better use of local data with the support and help of other data experts or local government partners.  The programme runs between November 2016 and March 2017.  Applications are being sought using the application form which is available for download here:  The closing date for applications is noon on 9-Dec-2016.

A Data Expert Programme is underway within local government to develop the skills and capacity of local areas to transform services through greater and better use of data and intelligence.  Between November 2016 and March 2017, there is a modest grant available to assist local authorities or groups of local authorities to learn from others about how best to manage and use local data in order to generate efficiencies or savings, or to improve service design.

Applications are being sought for about five grants of up to £10,000 each. This work is intended to transfer expertise on good information management practice and better use of data from recognised experts in the public or private sector to local authorities who would benefit from some support.

About the programme

Promoting, facilitating and enhancing the role of data in local authorities to generate efficiencies or savings or to transform and innovate services is a key LGA priority. This programme therefore focuses on helping authorities make better use of data.

Data can play an important role in decision making and helping to solve problems. But often the data generated in local communities are held in silos, fragmented, not released for wider use and under-utilised. The Local Data Expert Programme will help local authorities to manage, use, analyse and share their data better, encouraging the opening up of shared working within authorities or across combined authorities, devolved areas, wider partnerships and within the open data community.  Such wider access to local data has the potential to encourage innovation in areas such as troubled families, strategic planning, housing, integrated health and social care and other programmes; or it may simply allow more efficient systems and processes within an authority.  Through grant funding, the LGA hopes to encourage better use of data by authorities, by sharing best practice and expertise to help build leadership, skills and capacity. Our aim is to help more authorities to generate efficiencies or savings, or to improve service design and, in doing so, improve outcomes for local people.


This programme offers the chance for:

  • local authorities wishing to gain knowledge, support or training – to propose a project for making better use of data that will benefit from access to a funded expert facilitator (you might already know of an expert, either an individual or a local authority team, with which to engage; or you might ask the LGA for advice)
  • expert local authorities (and those with a good track record in this space) – to make proposals to transfer their experiences, skills and capabilities for making better use of data into other local authorities who agree to partner with them. 

Proposals are sought from local authorities or groups of local authorities describing projects that might benefit from additional modest grant funding to support direct bespoke advice from an expert.  We have a panel of local data experts available who have a proven track record in their field or you might care to suggest your own. The expert’s role would be to help councils deliver the specific project.

Whilst this programme is primarily aimed at assisting groups of councils to better share and use data, we will also take into consideration activities within a single local authority.

Areas of support

Councils are invited to submit a proposal application for any project that will support them in implementing their better data use priorities. Grant funding of up to a maximum of £10,000 will be made to successful lead candidates who will then be responsible for commissioning the data experts to assist them in their work.  Project scope should be sized in such a way to ensure that tangible outcomes can be realised within the time and cost limitations of the project.  Some possible areas of project activities are shown below.


Examples of support

Data management and publishing

Data audit and inventories, publishing open data, managing information access and reuse requests, improving the quality of data, linking data

Release of data

Expertise and commissioning necessary to establish or extend a data platform for the creation of a local data hub

Data governance and sharing

Complying with data protection and data sharing, overcoming cultural barriers of information sharing, developing a data sharing framework

Data architecture (infrastructure)

Designing a technical infrastructure to supply and link data efficiently, data platforms, warehouses and dashboards, ensure technical interoperability and integration of data to foster an internet of things

Data standards

Understanding data standards, use of open data schemas and classifications to enable the reuse, linking and sharing of data across systems

Data analytics

Making better use of data, predictive modelling, geospatial analysis to inform decision making and prepare for early intervention

Data strategy and leadership

Develop a data strategy, enabling better data use in decision making problem solving, overcoming cultural issues of data silos, enhancing the understanding of data use in transforming and innovating services, engagement with the data community to foster wider take-up of data

Grant deployment

We are flexible as to how the grant is deployed to achieve proposed outcomes in applications, though you should set this out in your proposal.  Grants may not be used for purchase of capital items and should primarily cover people and travel costs.  The charging rate of experts will be variable, though we will take value for money into account in our assessment of proposals.  We have based our initial modelling on the following:  typically the purchase of around15 days of expert support over three months plus travel costs.  Successful local authorities will be responsible for accommodating VAT charges within the grant provision.

Application process

We are now open for bids for funding from English local authorities for the Local Data Expert Programme. Prospective applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • be open to the prospect of external challenge and input from their appointed adviser or partner local authority;
  • have already agreed corporate buy-in/support from the relevant senior officer and/or portfolio holder;
  • be prepared to give regular project progress reports to the central programme team on a monthly basis;
  • must share their learning from this process with the LGA and others (including the possibility of collecting data and providing information and human resource to support the evaluation).

An application must come from a lead local authority representing itself or a group of partner local authorities.  An applicant can be from a local authority wishing to undertake a project in need of external expert help; or from an expert local authority wishing to work with other local authorities to spread their learning and expand their good data practice.

Applications must deliver identified milestones and outcomes within the financial and time limitations available.  Outcomes need to be well underway by 31 March 2017.

Applicants should set out, on no more than four sides of A4, minimum font size 11, why they should receive the support of grant funding to work with a Local Data Expert, including:

  • What is the aim of the project for which you are bidding for support from the Data Expert Programme?
  • Who are the proposed participants?
  • What is the current project position?  For example, is this a new project or one that would be building on work already underway?
  • What are the expected outputs and outcomes that will be delivered through your project and how will these be measured?
  • How do you anticipate using the Data Expert Programme to add value to your approach?
  • What are the timescales for the project and the successful delivery of the outputs and outcomes mentioned above?
  • How will the learning from your approach be transferrable to other local authorities?

The application must be signed-off by the council’s appropriate lead member and officer. The deadline for applications is noon on 9th December 2016. From the applications we will select a number of grants that can be funded within the total funds available.  The LGA’s decision will be final.

The LGA will work with the successful project leads to agree on the appropriate individual data expert and on a process and timetable for that support to take place

POST SCRIPT ADDED ON 11-JAN-2017:  A summary of the succesful bids that have been turned into grant funded mini projects are summarised in this outcomes document.

posted by LGA Data and Digital Programme on 11th November 2016

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