Local councils in UK to spend £4 billion on IT by 2016

Local councils throughout the UK will be spending as much as £4 billion on IT by 2016, according to a report by public sector research group Kable.

The study, entitled Local Government Forecast: Opportunities in Austerity, reveals the substantial increase in IT spending that Kable believes local councils will be forced to adopt, mainly due to outsourcing of projects, development of online channels, and a move to mobile working.

“Councils have had to draft contracts so that efficiency savings are stated and measurable by both them and their supplier,” said Michael Larner, senior analyst at Kable and the author of the report. “This shared risk and reward approach has meant that suppliers need to be confident of their ability to deliver, but also authorities need to be clear in articulating their requirements.”

The report found that since January 2007 outsourcing of projects has increased by 400 percent, which Kable believes will rise further over the next few years. This has led to an increase in costs, driving IT budgets upwards.

The report also revealed a trend towards putting more information and services online, citing the councils of Glasgow and East Renfrewshire, which allow benefit applications to be completed online and the website to be customised according to personal interests respectively. “In future, council web sites could mimic iGoogle,” Larner suggested.

The report highlighted the need for councils to become more efficient by buying remote network access, more portable computers like laptops, netbooks, and tablets, and accessible software applications for remote workers, since these workers are expected to increase from 265,000 to 700,000 over the next several years.

“The immediate future for local government ICT remains challenging, but innovative suppliers assisting in the delivery of tangible savings will still find a receptive audience among senior managers in local authorities,” said Larner.