Headlines: December 10th, 2003

The amount of money local authorities are spending on IT is set to rise by a quarter to just under two and a half billion pounds, according to the latest figures from Socitm – the Society of Information Technology Management – in its IT trends survey, High Stakes High Returns.The study shows councils are planning to invest heavily in Information and Communication Technology as part of their programmes to modernise services and as they make progress on e-government. The forecast increase in authorities’ spending in this area is in complete contrast to other non-government sectors where spending is flat at best.

Socitm’s key findings show that with senior managers, elected members and staff all optimistic about the potential of IT to deliver better services, investment in equipment, software and related services is expected to double. At the same time the survey predicts that more IT staff will be recruited and says IT managers are increasingly playing a wider strategic role in the management of councils.

More significantly for the people the councils serve, it is estimated that improvements in some service areas could be as much as 100 per cent with an average of 20 per cent across all council provision.

The IT Trends report looks in depth at current plans and also provides a detailed analysis of the challenges councils face. It charts the progress towards e-enabling services and identifies the areas of weakness. The research is based on responses from 230 councils and it identifies the software, hardware and services that UK local authorities are intending to deploy in order to transform the provision of services.

Copies of the report cost 300 pounds to commercial organisations, 250 pounds to Socitm subscriber members and 50 pounds to local authorities and other not-for-profit organisations. Copies can be ordered from www.socitm.gov.uk.