Wigan Council's masterplan aims to sharpen digital skills

Harnessing the power of digital can help residents lead healthy and happy lives, according to a new Wigan Council masterplan.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 11:10 am
Councillor Nazia Rehman
Councillor Nazia Rehman

Launched this month, the local authority’s Digital Strategy outlines how residents, businesses and communities can benefit from digital innovation over the next five years.

Building on the council’s Community Wealth Building approach, it includes plans to create a Digital Communities Partnership to ensure community, voluntary and social enterprise sectors work together to build their skills and knowledge base.

The strategy also expands on the innovative ways the council has supported some of its most vulnerable residents during the pandemic.

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Cabinet member for resources, finance and transformation, Coun Nazia Rehman said: “We have a strong track record of investing in digital transformation and we do so in a way that helps our residents lead healthy and happy lives.

“This strategy outlines our targets to help residents learn digital skills and underpins our ambitions to build on this borough’s reputation as a place with huge digital talent.

“As with everything we do, it has the principles of The Deal at its foundation, which ensures we only do the right things to help our residents, without removing the humanity from public services through poorly thought-out use of technology.”

Four key principles sit at the centre of strategy: transforming the way we work as a council; transforming how our services work for residents; being fully digitally enabled; transforming the places we live and work and promoting community wealth and health.

The power of digital has been brought into sharper focus during the pandemic, emphasising how efficient use of technology can be incorporated into everyday practice.

For example, iPads were distributed by the council to care homes and medical facilities in the borough and the TechMates scheme saw officers and volunteers provide digital skills training to elderly residents, all to prevent social isolation.

Meanwhile, smart technology – such as virtual reality headsets and artificial intelligence is being used more than ever before – especially in adult social care.

New learning devices have been used in borough schools to help children stay connected to their work and the classroom environment during lockdown.

The Digital Communities Partnership will help ensure residents, businesses and the voluntary sector have the means and confidence to use digital services.

The strategy also details how the council will continue to work with partner organisations to bring forward infrastructure projects towards the aim of the borough becoming 100 per cent digitally enabled.

Coun Rehman, who is also the chairperson of the Wigan Council Digital Board, added: “The impact of the pandemic has shone a light on structural health and wealth inequalities and the Digital Strategy can play a key role in addressing these issues as part of our wider Deal 2030 recovery plans.

“We’re excited about the possibilities that lie ahead. The Digital Communities Partnership and the work outlined in this strategy can impact on all aspects of our lives from education, health, employment and how public services are delivered.”

Within the council, digital platforms have been used to support new ways of working and have been identified as a means to support climate change goals and contribute to the local authority’s budget priorities.

However, the strategy also outlines that the council recognises that face-to-face and telephone contact remains important to residents.

For more information and to read the full Digital Strategy, visit: www.wigan.gov.uk/DigitalStrategyThanks for reading. If you value what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 for your first month. Try us today by clicking here and viewing our offers.