Public sector missing out on £7.2bn in savings from 'technology gap'

The public sector may be missing out on £7.2 billion in savings a year due to a "technology gap", according to research from O2 and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr).

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The public sector may be missing out on £7.2 billion in savings a year due to a "technology gap", according to research from O2 and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr).

Front-line community teams including social workers, healthcare workers and local councils are "being hampered by a lack of connectivity on the move", according to the research.

This comes despite the government’s ambition for the public sector to become "digital by default". The O2/Cebr report identifies three clear opportunities to improve support for frontline workers.

These include empowering frontline community workers to work remotely. The report says poor access to the right tools and connectivity is leading to a lack of information on the move - for example, when meeting citizens in the local community.

This is resulting in an average loss of 53 hours a year per employee, equating to £2.2 billion, says the report, which could be reinvested in other services.

Secondly, productivity could be boosted. Employees, such as community healthcare workers, could on average reduce the time taken to complete follow up tasks after home visits by as much as 30 percent with better connectivity. This would allow them to file real-time reports and update patient records without having to travel back and forth to the office.

Thirdly, the work-life balance for employees could be improved. With the right tools, says the report, employees could choose to spend another 22 days a year working from home, equating to a 90 percent increase in current levels.

Billy D’Arcy, managing director of public sector business at O2, said, “The findings in the report highlight the crucial role technology has to play in supporting these organisations, both in terms of cost savings and the delivery of services.

"The right investment in digital technology can have a real impact on social value, for example providing frontline staff with devices to empower them to work more flexibly, or giving doctors the technology to deliver remote diagnosis to patients. Government and businesses urgently need to work closely together to make sure that crucial public services are fit for the future.”