Want to level up in 2023? Ask your partners how they can help

James Wells, Local Government Lead at Virgin Media O2 Business, on using the knowledge and resources of suppliers to drive innovation, efficiency, and cost savings

2023 is a challenging year for all, which local authority leaders will perhaps feel more than most. If you count yourself among them, you’ll likely need to navigate a cost-of-living crisis, the ongoing impacts of the pandemic on communities and the fallout of Brexit – all while making progress on the levelling up agenda, tackling regional inequalities and delivering essential services to the public.

The ongoing battle for talent also means councils are searching for new ways to create better workplace experiences for employees, wherever that workplace might be.

As balancing acts go, this year is significant. But we can’t afford to shift focus away from digital. Ten million people in the UK lack the most basic digital skills, and 1.5 million households lack internet access, according to our partner and social charity, the Good Things Foundation.

The Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove, recently announced £60 billion in funding to support the delivery of core services and address unique rural challenges. This is, of course, welcome news. But some economists are already raising questions over how this funding will be allocated to maximise its impact. Decision-making in 2023 around investment will be, perhaps more than ever, under the watchful eye of the public.

Should this pressure really fall squarely on the shoulders of local council decision-makers?

Finding balance often means finding support. And this starts with your suppliers and partners.

It’s time to ask the right questions of suppliers

Ultimately, only public sector leaders have the experience to decide how public sector investment should be used best. The role of suppliers like us is to give you the information and expertise required to guide and implement organisational transformation through strategic partnership.

The right partners can offer expertise and experience to help local authorities create better outcomes for citizens, get the best out of the technology they already have, and make smarter investment decisions.

By working in true partnership, you can use the knowledge and resources of your suppliers to drive innovation, efficiency, and cost savings. You should consider asking suppliers some key questions this year.

Questions like: is my provider offering the level of consultancy I need? Do they have the best interests of my organisation at heart? Am I getting the best value out of this relationship? Are they a true partner or just a supplier?

When it comes to IT and telecoms, partners can advise on a range of digital transformation topics from cybersecurity to data management, connectivity infrastructure and interoperability.

They should also be able to advise on a range of solutions which improve operational efficiencies and value for money through a simple and easy-to-use procurement process.

The best place to start exploring what’s available to your organisation is by laying down the challenge to suppliers.

A partnership that empowers citizens and employees

Digital transformation is becoming increasingly important in the delivery of public services. Local authorities that are slow to embrace this new way of living risk missing out on creating better citizen experiences at a time when levelling up the entire UK is vital.

There’s no limit to what can be achieved when the supplier/customer partnership is at its collaborative best. Take our work with Telford and Wrekin Council. The partnership will deliver a 10-year, multimillion-pound boost to digital infrastructure, employment and skills in the area. It also includes a major build programme to connect over 200 local council and public buildings to an ultrafast full-fibre network.

Because a large focus of the project is creating a lasting positive impact in the community, we’ve committed to a social value programme where we’ll provide in-kind connectivity to local voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors. We’ll also be funding a series of initiatives to help support residents most at risk of digital exclusion, ranging from a targeted apprenticeship scheme to a digital learning fund and volunteering.

If we’re to create better outcomes for citizens and employees alike, then private-public partnership will need to be set up in such a way that allows everyone in society to benefit.

This isn’t the only example of our employees volunteering their time to help tackle digital exclusion alongside public sector organisations. Our Connect More Programme is our commitment to giving back to the communities we work with. Virgin Media O2 Business teams share their time and digital skills at local authority drop-in sessions. The Programme began last year with Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and is now being rolled out nationwide.


If we’re to create better outcomes for citizens and employees alike, then private-public partnership will need to be set up in such a way that allows everyone in society to benefit.

We know this year won’t be the easiest and that 2023 will demand balance from us all. That’s why we’re committed to continuing to invest in our own networks despite the current economic headwinds. Over the next five years, we’re investing £10 billion in our fixed and mobile networks to bring councils like yours next-generation connectivity.


Together, we can find new ways to get the most out of existing tech and create better experiences for citizens across the UK.


Finding the right balance in 2023 for your organisation starts with a conversation. Learn more about how we can help on our website or contact us today.


Share this page
Partner content