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One-third of UK councils have IT budgets cut

Many local authorities’ IT budgets are being reduced at a time when they are trying to digitally transform to cut costs and improve processes

Almost one-third (32%) of the UK’s local councils are having their IT budgets cut this year, and a further 21% will have the same budget as last year.

The figures were revealed by a Freedom of Information (FoI) request by software company Y Soft, which questioned 78 local authorities about their IT budgets.

At a time when public sector organisations are undergoing digital transformation, reduced budgets could stall projects and delay the resultant benefits for councils.

For example, the FoI also revealed that only 21% of councils are investing in automating manual workflows. Y Soft said this will slow down any wider digital transformation projects.

“Automating core processes through software helps councils save money, improve productivity, increase security and improve the accuracy of their data by removing manual input errors,” it said.

“Also, when you consider the time taken to retrieve documents in multiple, disparate systems – reportedly taking up to 2.5 hours per day per person, causing frustration and delays to projects – it has to make sense to automate and control this as much as possible.”

The FoI also revealed which council processes are most commonly automated. For finance management, 41% of councils are using automation software and 38% are automating revenue and benefits. There is less automation in councils’ planning (15%), council tax (9%) and housing (9%) departments.

Earlier this month, Neath Port Talbot Council in Wales said it would reduce the cost of some of its back-office processing by 95% through robotic process automation (RPA).

The local authority, which is working with outsourcing services provider Arvato on the transformation, expects to reduce the cost of each human resources (HR) transaction by up to 95% by using RPA.

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