Headlines: October 9th, 2009

Almost half of council have bought into the Treasury’s Operational Efficiency Programme and are planning to cut costs with better use of technology according to a survey by ntl:Telewest Business. Across the UK public sector £16 billion a year is spent on IT, with local government the biggest spender. The target for the sector is to make savings of around £3.2 billion annually.

The Operational Efficiency Programme, launched in April 2009, set out a range of measures for savings in IT budgets through sharing back office services, improving management information and by benchmarking and reviewing costs, together with better governance of IT.

Flexible working emerged from the survey as the preferred route to drive cost efficiencies and improve public service delivery. All respondents said that they had the technology in place to enable staff to work remotely from sites such as home and satellite offices. Some 85 per cent also had a flexible working policy in place.

The introduction of improved technology had a knock on effect in other areas and 43 per cent of councils said that it had helped them to reduce their property portfolio. Property asset management is another important stream of the Operational Efficiency Programme with potential efficiency savings over the next 10-years of around £20 billion in receipts from property disposals, excluding council housing, and savings in running costs of up to £5 billion a year.

The survey also revealed a shift towards the use of council wide IT systems for all departments including social services, schools and libraries.