If you have a question about an application to the Local Digital Fund, you can contact the Local Digital team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To help all applicants, previously answered questions have been anonymised and published here. These questions will be used to update our guidance for future rounds of funding.
Previously answered questions
1. Would you please clarify if the Local Digital Fund this is also open to Fire and Rescue Authorities?
The Local Digital Fund is only open to local authorities, but you are able to be a partner on a bid.
2. We are a shared service delivering children’s services for multiple local authorities. Can we lead an application to the Local Digital Fund?
The Local Digital Fund is only open to local authorities. One of the authorities that you are owned by would have to make an application on your behalf.
3. We wondered whether ideas have to be new rather than Phase 1 ideas replicated in different boroughs?
We would be unlikely to fund another project that implements a solution already developed in a previously funded project. However, we will consider applications from teams who are looking to expand, improve or further investigate projects that may have already been partly delivered elsewhere. Applicants should review projects that were not funded in round 1 in order to see whether a piece of work has been submitted previously and been unsuccessful before applying.
4. Do the Local Digital Collaboration Unit expect to see a specific apportionment of budget between the lead local authority, partners and any suppliers involved in delivering the work.
As outlined within the Local Digital Fund prospectus, Annex A Section 4: The Plan, this question asks for a clear breakdown of expected cost, including costs with suppliers and those incurred by the lead authority or any partners.
5. Can parts of the NHS (CCG / STP) be a partner on a bid? The NHS is not local or central government, third or private sector, so where does that leave it?
The NHS has been included as a partner on previous bids. However, you will still need to have 3 local authority partners, one being the lead applicant, that have signed the Local Digital Declaration in order to meet the essential criteria.
6. Can MHCLG confirm whether alpha bids can be based on discovery work that was not funded originally through the Local Digital Fund? It looks like beta’s must have been funded as an alpha via the Local Digital Fund, but it’s a little less clear for alpha bids.
You can make an application to the fund for an alpha project where you have done your own discovery. It is not a requirement for that to have been funded through the local digital fund. However, you will need to demonstrate a discovery happened and clearly articulate its findings.
7. Considering the closure for funding applications is the 16 September. When would be the latest we would need to sign the Local Digital Declaration to be able to submit an application for funding in time?
You may submit your application at any time up to the deadline of 5:00pm on 16 September 2019. Your organisation must have signed the Local Digital Declaration by the deadline on 16 September in order to be considered.
8. As of April 2020, alongside four other organisations, we will be replaced by a single unitary council. Consequently, we wanted to check:
- Could this impact our application in any way?
- If the other 4 organisations have applied for funding already this year, would that prevent us in doing so?
As per the prospectus, you will need to provide evidence to demonstrate that your project will have the right team and skills in place throughout the duration of the project in order to deliver the work. Your application should also include an appropriate plan of activities that outline how the work will be delivered in an agile way. You may want to consider addressing any risks that may arise as a result of moving to a unitary council in your answers to these questions.
We look at applications on a round-by-round basis and as a point in time exercise. Applications from previous rounds of the Local Digital Fund do not impact a council’s ability to apply.
If all 4 organisations have signed the Local Digital Declaration, they would each be entitled to lead on 2 applications in this round. However, after April 2020, the unitary authority would be entitled to lead on 2 applications only. There is no limit to the amount of applications that councils can partner on.
9. Would we need to apply for funding using our existing organisation name or through the new unitary name (which does not replace us until 1 April 2020).
The application should be made using the current organisation name.
10. We are looking to partner with 3 local authorities to apply for funding. Is the absolute deadline for application submission on 16 September 2019?
Yes. Applications to the Local Digital Fund will close at 5:00pm on 16 September 2019.
11. Are the applications to the Local Digital Fund being submitted online, if so where are they located?
Yes – applications for Round 3 will be made via the Local Digital website. Template application forms are currently available to draft applications. The online application forms will be available on our website soon.
12. Can a local authorities apply for alpha funding instead of discovery? Or does it have to be discovery first?
A Local authority may apply for alpha funding as long as you are able to provide an overview and evidence from a previously undertaken self-funded discovery phase. If this is a new project and a discovery phase has not been completed, you will need to apply for discovery funding before moving to alpha.
13. We received information regarding round 3 of funding for digital innovation. We currently have an assistive technology project underway however it’s currently in its infancy. I wanted to know if there will be a round 4 of funding coming out that we could potentially apply for?
Yes, there will be future funding in 2020.
14. In your template, you mention lead local authority and then 2 other authorities as requirements for the funding. For clarification do the other 2 partners need to be local authorities or could they be a digital partner/innovation hub?
Applicants are required to have at least 3 local authorities listed as partners. This means the lead authority and two further authorities who are also signatories of the Local Digital Declaration. You may also list partners from other organisations however these will not be counted as part of your application requirements.
15. We are seeking to submit applications (both as leads and as support), and we are currently in the process of identifying partners.
Our Council adjoins three other authorities which will merge into a single unitary authority, due to be in service from 1 April 2020. The 4 District and Country Councils will no longer exist.
As the outputs of the Local Digital Fund are due in March 2020 (before the Councils are merged together), I was wondering whether there was a view on whether we are able to collaborate with one or more of our neighbouring authorities as partners on our Local Digital Fund applications and projects, or whether this would be discouraged due to the unitary council formation.
As your neighbouring authorities become unitary after the outputs deadline, you are able to partner with them.
16. Would we need to have been funded previously at the discovery stage to be able to make an application now for the Alpha stage, or can we go straight to Alpha if we feel we meet the criteria?
A Local authority may apply for alpha funding as long as you are able to provide an overview and evidence from a previously undertaken self-funded discovery phase. If this is a new project and a discovery phase has not been completed you will need to apply for discovery funding before moving to alpha.
17. Our councils haven’t individually signed up to the Local Digital Declaration, but are included within a combined authority. Would we need to have signed up individually to be able to bid or are we covered as part of the combined authority?
Yes, individual organisations will need to have signed the Local Digital Declaration in order to apply for funding or count as a partner organisation.
18. In footnote 4, Metropolitan Authorities aren’t mentioned, was this an omission and are Metropolitan authorities able to bid?
Metropolitan authorities are eligible to apply. Individual organisations must have signed the Local Digital Declaration in order to apply for funding or count as a partner organisation.
19. In the guidance notes, it states that bidders should make contact with the support team so that you can support us in engaging with other LAs, is this essential, or are we able to submit a bid without having any contact with the bid team, if we have a collaboration in place?
Yes, if you have collaboration partners in place then there is no need to contact us
20. I am currently putting together an application for funding from the local digital fund and I was wondering if you could clarify the timescale of the potential project please.
The 2019/20 prospectus states that awards are due week commencing 14th October 2019 and that outputs are due 26th March 2020, however the application for discovery project funding section 4 statement 5.1 states “confirm that you commit to delivering the project outputs listed in the table below by the end of January 2020”
Please can you confirm which of these dates is correct? If they are both correct, can you please clarify what is expected at each deadline as my concern is that if funding is awarded at the end of October this would only leave 3 months for any measurable impacts to be assessed which may not be sufficient for an effective evaluation?
The Discovery outputs will need to be delivered by March 2020.
21. We have paid for the early stage pilot and not received alpha funding from the Local Digital Fund.
Despite the fact we have borne the cost, do we still not qualify for the beta phase of the Local Digital Fund, if we can provide an evidence base, and the value of entering the beta phase?
If we are unable to apply for the beta phase, can the lead council still apply for the Alpha phase if we are more advanced?
Unfortunately we are unable to accept applications at beta stage that have not undertaken a previous alpha phase funded by the Local Digital Fund. You may make an application to the fund at alpha stage but as per the prospectus you will need to provide a detailed plan for your alpha including demonstration of the use of agile methodologies, and how this has been informed by any previous self-funded discovery work.
22. Can you confirm what the returns process is, for how the financial information will be signed off in the grants process?
The financial information will require MHCLG internal sign off, as well as HMT consent approval.
23. If our application was successful, when would we receive the funds if the decision is made in the week starting October 14th?
Once the minister has given approval for the funded projects, grant payment will be processed as soon as possible from the approval date.
24. Point 10 (page 4) of the Local Digital Fund Prospectus – 2019/20 explains that all bids needs to be developed or contributed to by 3 or more local authorities. We are a shared service offering transport services, could you advise if we would be considered a local authority in itself? For example, would an application for funding made by us, and two further local authorities be acceptable? Or would additional local authority partners be required?
The Local Digital Fund is only open to local authorities. One of the authorities that you are owned by would have to make an application on your behalf. Applications are required to have at least 3 local authorities listed as partners. This means the lead authority and two further authorities who are also signatories of the Local Digital Declaration. Applications may also list partners from other organisations or shared services however these will not be counted as part of the application requirements.
25. We are a public sector mutual that delivers a range of cultural and learning services ( including public libraries). We have been asked to join a partnership to bid for this fund, and thus last week signed the local digital declaration.
In reading the guidance point 12 seems to exclude us as a potential partner, even if we are delivering local government services on behalf of a Local authority. It would be helpful for clarification about our ability (not to lead a bid) to partner with neighbouring local authorities (we are looking at a digital development in public libraries).
Applications are required to have at least 3 local authorities listed as partners. This means the lead authority and two further authorities who are also signatories of the Local Digital Declaration. Applications may also list partners from other organisations or shared services however these will not be counted as part of the application requirements.
26. Would you welcome unsuccessful applications from Round 2 that have been restructured to address the feedback from the fund?
Yes, we would welcome unsuccessful application from round 2 that have been revised.