Scottish local authorities have avoided costs of more than £1million in preparation for the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), as a result of collaborative working within the Local Government Digital Partnership.

The Digital Office for Scottish Local Government designed the GDPR Readiness Project back in March 2017. The project aimed to help councils interpret the new GDPR regulations coming into force on 25 May 2018, which mean organisations face stricter guidelines on how they collect, store, record and share personal data.

The outputs of the project, led by Glasgow City Council and Fife Council on behalf of the Digital Office, contained a joined-up action plan, standards and guidance which were shared amongst 30 of the 32 Scottish local authorities in the Digital Partnership.

By sharing the toolkit and providing guidance on preparing, planning and interpreting the imminent legislation, the delivery board of the Digital Partnership estimated the combined cost avoidance to be in excess of £1million across the 30 Scottish local authorities.

Alongside the notable cost avoidance figure, which comes at a time where local authorities face crucial saving requirements, several other benefits were realised including good data governance practices being established to include GDPR and the potential for non-compliance fines being reduced – a huge reputation benefit for councils. A common, consistent understanding of the legislation’s impact across the Partnership has also been proven together with an efficient model for future data legislation changes.

Anne-Marie O’Donnell, Chief Executive of Glasgow City Council and Chair of the Digital Partnership for Scottish Local Government Delivery Board, said: “We only have a matter of weeks to ensure we are fully prepared for these new regulations and the preparations will continue in each council. However, it is important to recognise the significant qualitative and quantitative benefits this project has delivered for all our partners at a crucial time where all local authorities need it most.

“Credit must go to all our project team, particularly Glasgow City Council and Fife Council who have worked solidly to deliver this project over the last year and we look forward to continuing this collaborative work across all of the other Digital Partnership programmes.”

The Digital Partnership also benefits from access to a corporate Knowledge Hub where officers can share information, experiences and solutions to issues they may come across in their preparations. This has proved a key source in sizably reducing the duplicated effort for those responsible in implementing the new regulations and ensures a consistent approach across the Partnership.

Martyn Wallace, Chief Digital Officer for Scottish Local Government, said: “The results of this project were a true reflection of what could be achieved fairly quickly through the collaboration of councils in the Partnership rather than each of them having to try an interpret and implement the new legislation single handily. With the current tough climate, all the councils involved help share the workload but also all the benefits too.

“Personally, I’d like to thank Glasgow and Fife teams leading on this on behalf of the Partnership as their outputs have been invaluable in helping us deploy GDPR as an enabler for safer data sharing as per the new legislation rather than a disabler to transforming our services.”

The Digital Office for Scottish Local Government is funded by 30 local authorities to drive digital transformation by establishing partnership working, to improve how services function and how councils serve their residents. For more information, visit