Parish council adoption fuels ongoing rise in number of domains

Written by Sam Trendall on 28 April 2023 in News

Total number of sites using standardised web address is now nearing 4,000

Credit: pearly-peach/Pixabay

The number of public sector websites adopting a domain has continued to grow strongly among small local councils in recent years, newly published government data reveals.

Beginning shortly after the inception of the Government Digital Service 12 years ago, the digital unit has published annual data on the number of websites using a domain. In 2011, there were 3,771 sites – a figure which gradually declined during the years thereafter, dropping under 3,000 by 2017.

Having risen again gradually in 2018 and 2019, the latest set of figures – the first published in four years – show a large increase. 

There are now 3,854 websites using domains – the highest total ever.

Since 2019, the number of sites registered to parish councils has grown from 948 to 1,565, equating to a rise of 65%. The number of domains run by town councils has increased from 509 to 583.

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Government hopes to further boost the number of small councils adopting the public sector-wide domain. A project launched late last year by GDS sister unit, the Central Digital and Data Office, sought to increase uptake among the 10,000-plus bodies around England that comprise the lowest tier of local government – of which, despite the recent increases in adoption, only one in five currently use a domain for their online presence. 

In a contract notice seeking a commercial partner for the project, CDDO said: “Many have chosen either to use a non-government domain, or not to have a domain at all. This may be because: it’s hard for someone unfamiliar with current best security practice to know where to start to guard against, or help others to guard against the most common cyberthreats; there are obligations that come with having a domain and it’s difficult to discharge these obligations without knowledgeable IT support.”

In its online guidance for organisations considering adopting a domain, the Cabinet Office-based digital unit added: “Your domain is a critical digital asset and your organisation is responsible for its security. Your domain shows that your emails and websites are coming from an official UK public sector organisation. Protecting your organisation’s digital identity and reputation is central to maintaining citizen trust in the UK public sector.”


About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology. He can be reached on

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