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Digital Pathfinders Programme Prospectus 2021/22

Our Digital Pathfinders Programme is designed to support councils seeking to innovate and develop pioneering initiatives to advance digital inclusion, digital connectivity, and cyber security.

We are seeking to award up to £20,000 per council to fund pioneering solutions to improve digital inclusion, connectivity and/or cyber security. Each project will contribute to service transformation to meet the needs of local communities. Award holders will manage their project and work with us to deliver their proposed initiative.


Every day, councils make a difference to millions of lives. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the value of local leadership like never before, and councils have provided critical support to people, businesses and communities that have protected lives and livelihoods.

Never before have councils’ digital communications and services been so critical to meeting the needs of the most vulnerable. From video conferencing, to new data sharing, to the digitisation of public meetings, the local government response to COVID-19 demands continuous and accelerated digital innovation.

Through the LGA’s sector support offer, we are providing councils with tools and resources to respond to the challenges of COVID-19 and its consequences while working closely with the Government on priority issues. We will continue to offer a helping hand to councils as they improve, innovate, and seek to improve their resilience now and into the future.

The Programme Offer

Our Digital Pathfinders Programme is designed to support councils by helping them to deliver digital inclusion initiatives, broadband and mobile improvement programmes or high quality cyber security practices to support residents, the council, businesses and the local place.

The three challenge areas are:

  • Digital Inclusion (people)
  • Digital Connectivity (place)
  • Cyber Security

This year, the Programme will prioritise working with councils whose work will offer a positive example to others in the sector, through sustainable change programmes. As such, councils are asked to not just consider how innovative the technical aspect of any proposal is, but also its scalability, sustainability, and transferability across multiple community/council settings within the sector. Whilst of course focussing on one of the three challenge areas.

The Programme will award up to £20,000 to each selected project. Successful councils will manage the project and work with the LGA to deliver the proposed initiatives. Intellectual property will belong to the LGA with a view to sharing across the sector.

Our role support

We will provide project governance through the Digital Pathfinders Programme. This will include a Programme Adviser who will coordinate and oversee projects and integrate findings and learning within our wider sector support offer.

We will support councils to lead and contribute to activities that enable the sharing of experiences across the sector through a learning programme which includes:

  • Tech Essentials – case studies, podcasts, and resources
  • Learning events
  • Collaboration and networking opportunities

How to apply

We are inviting councils to submit an expression of interest to the Programme. We are looking for details of how your project will respond to one or more of the challenge areas outlined above.

Our ask is that your projects is innovative and meets the following principles:

  • focuses on local need and involves local people and partners
  • demonstrates how it is innovative and emerging in one of the three challenge areas
  • uses and creates evidence about what works well to address local need and are scalable to other councils
  • delivers a sustainable impact beyond the period of the funding.


Timeline for Pathfinder programme offer
Date Description

Monday 2 August

Expression of Interest goes live

Friday 10 September

Expression of Interest deadline

Monday 13 September to Friday 17 September

Moderation and Clarification Questions

Monday 20 September to Friday 25 September

Successful councils notified, grant agreements circulated and required signatures

Monday 27 September to Friday 1 October

Unsuccessful councils notified and offered alternative support

Tuesday 12 October

Pathfinder Kick Off Calls



If you are interested in participating in this year’s programme, please complete the short expression of interest form.

The deadline for your expression of interest is Friday 10 September 2021 at 12pm.

If you have any queries, please email [email protected]