Our story

In 2017 Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council built their own in-house income management system. Barnsley had identified an opportunity to build this system, meeting the needs of people who use the system, and of the council. By building the IMS themselves Barnsely gained greater control over the system, improved experiences for users and lowered running costs. Barnsley have been using their IMS since building it.

Barnsley recognised that the IMS they’d built could be valuable to other councils, which led to the council’s work becoming a DLUHC funded project, and a collaborative effort with other councils. A shared vision was identified - for local government teams to build their own IMS in collaboration.

The IMS project team follows agile delivery methods, and started a discovery phase in 2019. Discovery explored the appetite amongst councils for a shared IMS for local government. Engaging other council’s in the discovery showed there was appetite, but also that moving IMS can be complicated and not all councils have the in-house technical capability that’s needed to do this.

Richard Kingston, Digital Programme Manager at Barnsley

“We initially created the system for our use at Barnsley, but to make this IMS something that other councils can use, we decided to build in other functionality too with the goal of making it open source. That way, we have an IMS that has been created by local government, for local government. We hope this is an approach that others can follow with different services”.

Dorset and Huntingdonshire councils joined the project from the alpha phase. Since starting the alpha phase the partner councils have re-designed and re-built Barnsley’s original IMS, creating a new version of the IMS that will work well for other councils. Alpha proved the viability of the IMS, and the team continued on to beta in summer 2021.

Glen Conroy, ICT Operations Manager at Dorset

“People only notice an IMS when it’s not working. Either payments get taken or they don’t, so our aim is to make the application as easy to use as possible and ensure it does what it needs to do.”

The beta is currently underway, and is being approached in two parts. The first part of beta focused on the delivery of an open source version of the IMS. The second part of the beta phase, to start in late summer 2022 will focus on designing a supported version of the IMS.

Lewisham joined the team recently, and due to staff changes Huntingdonshire left the project. Throughout the project we’ve continued to engage other councils, working in the open and sharing our progress. The team encourages other councils to join the project team and IMS community.

The IMS Community

This is an open, collaborative, local government project. It’s been funded by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities’ (DLUHC) Local Digital Fund, and led collaboratively by partners.

The current partners on the project are Dorset Council, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council and Lewisham Council.

The partners are supported by a delivery partner, dxw and a DLUHC Engagement and Collaboration Manager.