Wolverhampton Council is hoping to cut £769,000 out of its ICT costs through initiatives including renegotiating software contracts and making staff redundant.
It is part of the local authority’s wider efforts to make £123 million savings over the next five years, after a cut in funding from central government. Up to 2,000 jobs across the council are expected to be lost over five years to help achieve this savings goal, 20 of them in ICT-related roles. The council has cut 600 posts over the last five years.
The largest saving is expected to be made by reducing staff numbers in information management and ICT support in ‘Leisure and Communities’. Four full-time employees are to lose their jobs in 2014-15, up to seven by 2019, resulting in £294,000 savings, according to Wolverhampton’s budget setting documents for 2014/15.
By making technology improvements in revenues and benefits in ‘Resources’, the council plans to cut 11 staff between 2014 and 2019, resulting in £225,000 savings. In this function, the council proposes to introduce electronic services for revenues, to enable customer to report changes via online forms that are fully integrated with the back office system. It also plans to introduce electronic benefit claims, incorporating full self-service capability for new claims and electronic reporting of changes, which are also integrated with the back office.
Additionally in Resources, the council plans to remove a desktop warranty agreement (saving £90,000), reduce the number of systems tools and to explore cheaper corporate software (saving £50,000), reduce telephone lines (saving £50,000) and move to a managed service contract for mobile phones when the current contract is due for renewal in 2015 (saving £60,000 and cutting two staff).
As well as cutting costs, Wolverhampton is planning to invest to save money. At a one-off cost of £36,000, the council wants to replace its switchboard function with an Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) solution.
The new solution would have an ongoing annual licence fee of about £8,000, resulting in a net saving of £35,000 over the next five years, the council said.
The Midlands are being hit hard by the government’s council funding cuts. Last week, Birmingham City Council announced it was carrying out a review of its outsourcing contract with Capita to identify £20 million in savings.