Digital engagement

Digital engagement is anything which enables a conversation about government decisions to happen online – it can involve using platforms like Twitter and Facebook, blogging, establishing partnerships with forums or websites, as well as providing feedback or comments, and using digital tools to vote and rate things.


Digital engagement can exclude those without the equipment or knowledge to access it easily but can provide a space in which people from a range of backgrounds and areas can participate in online discussion. It can help amplify the impact of offline engagement helping to build a foundation of technical knowledge to inform debate, as well as increasing access and participation in the democratic process.

Digital approaches are generally quite flexible and can be used both before and after a devolution deal has been agreed. They can also involve any number of people, and so can scale up and down easily. They can be tailor-made which can be expensive and time consuming, or can use ‘off the shelf' products which are cost effective and ready to use used immediately.

Key considerations for devolution

  • A range of technologies exist to support deliberative online conversations about devolved decisions; 
  • Can be used both before and after a devolution deal has been agreed;
  • Can provide a space in which people from a range of backgrounds and areas can participate in online discussion;
  • Can assist is establishing a sense of ‘place', buy-in and identity to a devolution
  • Can exclude those without the equipment or knowledge to access it easily;
  • Scales up and down easily and so can be tailored to fit devolved levels.

How do I get started?

  • Refer to the LGA's Devolution Communications tools, for further thinking on digital engagement;
  • Find out about your local and combined authority's existing forms of digital engagement;
  • Scope where the use of digital engagement will be most appropriate and most effective in relation to devolution;
  • Speak to local and combined authority digital and communication teams and build a digital plan for future engagement, stressing that the approach needs to enable deliberative conversations around devolution issues
    (not just quick surveys);
  • If a more bespoke approach is needed (for example Let's Talk Newcastle) speak to external experts in digital engagement.  

Case studies:

HM Treasury, The Spending Challenge: a national campaign to submit ideas on how to spend money more effectively, some of which were turned in to policy.

Welsh National Assembly, Loomio: online conversations used to facilitate an inquiry into alcohol and substance misuse.

Let's Talk Newcastle: a bespoke online engagement and consultation platform which allows residents to have their say about the Newcastle Council's spending priorities.