Pilot to Support Users of .gov.uk Domains

28 March 2023

Piloting a new service to support users of .gov.uk domains

Conducting parish council business in a safe and secure manner, protecting ourselves and our constituents against cyber harm is a priority for all clerks. However, adopting modern IT with time, funding and resourcing constraints is not without its challenges. That’s why the Central Digital & Data Office (CDDO) is starting work on a new service to help parish councils successfully operate, and reap the benefits, of having a secure .gov.uk domain.

The first iteration of the Small Organisation Helper Service will be developed over the spring and summer of 2023 with the support of ten parish councils and their domain registrars. Being involved with the development process ensures that not only will parish councils have a service that will fit their unique needs but also have an opportunity to directly contribute to building greater cyber resilience at the foundational tier of our democracy.

Research and Pilot

CDDO are following a research and pilot based approach to developing the new service. The pilot will comprise of ten parish councils and their domain registrars – five that do not have a .gov.uk domain and five that do but are experiencing difficulties.
Over the course of the pilot, participants will take part in research that will both uncover barriers to adopting a .gov.uk domain and develop a picture of what effective support might look like. This insight will help CDDO develop the first iteration of the new Small Organisation Helper Service. Pilot participants will then trial the new service providing feedback via workshops and interviews to ensure continual improvement.

Future stages of this work – where CDDO will hone the service offering – will involve an increasing number of participants. In the first instance, it is expected that these will be drawn from the reserve list of interested parish councils who are not selected for the pilot.

Where are we now?

Member Services at SLCC and the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) are currently working to identify a long-list of interested pilot participants. These will be reviewed by CDDO against a set of criteria to ensure that those selected to take part will – as far as is possible – represent the diversity of parish councils across England.
CDDO will then contact successful participants and their domain registrars at the beginning of April with more information about their involvement and how the pilot will work. The first phase – user research – will commence shortly after. The insight gathered at this stage will help develop the first iteration of the Small Organisation Helper Service.

Finding out more about the pilot and .gov.uk domains

CDDO will be keeping SLCC and NALC up to date with progress across the pilot period via member services.

You can find out more about .gov.uk domains – how to navigate the adoption process and the benefits of ownership – via the CDDO website.

What is a .gov.uk domain?

  • It’s the Internet’s unique name for your organisation’s online digital identity
  • What your website and email is built on
  • It is a valuable digital asset

What are the benefits of a .gov.uk domain?

  • Shows your website and emails belong to an official UK public sector organisation
  • .gov.uk services are trusted and familiar
  • Confidence your domain is being constantly monitored so that problems and malicious intent are quickly spotted and resolved
  • Control access to official papers and correspondence; easily removing access when people leave
  • Handle Freedom of Information (FOI) or data requests more easily: you will not have to surrender private emails
  • Your .gov.uk domain will always be yours; it is has been provided under English law
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