Council staff need to be more digitally-savvy

Council employees need to use more digital services as local authorities move to public 'self-service' systems, said Jos Creese, president of Socitm.

Council employees need to use more digital services as local authorities move to public 'self-service' systems, said Jos Creese, president of Socitm.

Councils should expect staff to rely less on IT support and do more for themselves, said the head of the organisation for public sector IT professionals.

"If we are going to expect the public to 'self-serve' then that is something we ought to also expect of staff. We need all employees to have the same access to online services such as payroll and sickness forms, for example."

Digital inclusion ought to be critical to public service efficiency rather than being seen as something 'nice-to-have', said Creese.

Martin Read, government efficiency advisor at the Cabinet Office, agreed that online delivery is a massive opportunity to reduce costs. "It's a case of moving from pounds [per user] to pennies. At the moment online is treated as just another form of delivery. But there is tremendous opportunity there," he said.

Contract renegotiations also represent a huge area for cost savings, added Creese. "We've identified 75 contracts and would expect to see £500,000 a year."

He said, "One of the challenges to the public sector is the baroque practices it has accumulated, which can be seen as best practice but need challenging. The same goes for projects, how many do you need and which ones can be trimmed back?"

Creese also said that councils have more equipment than they need. He recently suggested that local authorities should move towards employees using their own smartphones and laptops for work purposes.

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