E-government £220m funding is ignoring local needs, warn IT users

Local authority IT directors have slammed Whitehall’s latest e-government proposals, claiming they ignore local needs.

Local authority IT directors have slammed Whitehall’s latest e-government proposals, claiming they ignore local needs.

The Society of IT Management delivered the message after the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister last week announced the last round of funding for local authorities worth a total of £220m. The money is meant to help them meet the 2005 target for getting services online.

Socitm said it was disappointed that the government was mandating requirements that "take no account of local priorities of councils up and down the country".

Socitm president Fahri Zihni said, "We hope that the ODPM will respond positively to our formal response, which recommends that local authorities need to be allowed to determine their priority outcomes according to their needs, which vary enormously."

The ODPM also announced that an additional £28m is to be allocated to specific projects focusing on the national roll-out and the take up of e-services.

However, Zihni said the ODPM needed to recognise that many national projects it has been sponsoring are far from complete.

"Until they are in a usable state, it would be unrealistic to expect local authorities to deploy them within the 2005 timescale," he said.

Each local authority will receive £500,000 over the next two years - £350,000 in March this year and a further £150,000 in June 2006 - provided they submit satisfactory progress reports.

Councils will be required to keep the government up to date with their progress or risk losing the money if they under perform, the ODPM said.

In addition to these flat-rate payments, there will be extra non-financial help available to councils to help them meet the target, the ODPM said.

Phil Hope, local e-government minister said, "We are beginning to see the results of the various projects across the country and this funding gives local authorities the support they need to deliver further improved e-services for people in their area."

Read more on IT strategy