The government is helping to unlock data from public bodies by awarding £1.5 million to projects as part of its Release of Data fund.

The Cabinet Office investment will support organisations who want to improve their data publication as part of a government push to increase transparency.

The Open Data User Group (ODUG), which acts as a bridge between the open data community and government, will collect bids for funding.

The first round of funding supports projects that will release public data directly, but also those that will help boost skills in the public sector. More funding will follow later this year.

As part of the latest funding more than 100 training places will be available for senior public servants. The training will cover how open data can improve efficiency, bring savings and innovation, and provide wider economic benefits.

A number of projects also aim to improve the release of public data at a local level, for instance on public conveniences, gritting and planning in the same format.

The government says projects like this will help the open data community to develop national products using this data - which hasn't been consistently available or standardised before now.

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said: "The UK is a world-leader in opening up data because we know that it creates a more accountable, efficient and effective government.

"Open data is a raw material for economic growth, supporting the creation of new markets, business and jobs, and helping us compete in the global race."