Norwich Council signs £85m PFI IT services deal

Norwich City Council has signed a massive £85m deal with services company Steria in what is the first private finance initiative...

Norwich City Council has signed a massive £85m deal with services company Steria in what is the first private finance initiative (PFI) Pathfinder IT services contract.

The 15-year deal, which has been awarded PFI Pathfinder status by the Treasury, covers delivery of the Norwich Connect project, which aims to improve council services and residents' access to them through new technology.

Councillor David Fullman explained, "The improvements will see letters and phone calls dealt with more efficiently, and thereby there will be a major improvement in all services including housing benefit claims, housing repairs, abandoned vehicles and litter." It will make the council less bureaucratic, more efficient and able to provide better value for money, he added.

Pathfinder projects are designed to foster best practice in local government and provide an IT blueprint for other local authorities to follow.

As part of the deal, Norwich City Council will work in partnership with a business consortium of Steria, KPMG Consulting and BT to provide 24-hour access to information and services via the Web and public information points.

The consortium will use business process re-engineering to reshape the relevant management structure, processes and systems and provide improved customer service. The council also plans to reduce costs by adopting best practices from both the public and private sectors and implement an enhanced IT infrastructure and support network.

The Norwich City Council contract comprises £16.8m of PFI funding and £40m of existing council spending on IT staff and facilities. Council officials claim that the balance of the contract, a figure in the region of £28m, will be made from efficiency savings over the life of the contract.

The contract, which will be monitored through comprehensive service level agreements, will see 30 council staff transferred to Steria under Transfer of Undertaking Protection of Employment (Tupe) regulations.

BT will provide voice and data networking as part of the deal, with data management specialist Comino providing other services.

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