Austin Macauley 13 February 2015

Councils could 'save £5bn' by switching to digital

Councils could 'save £5bn' by switching to digital

Local government could save £5bn over the course of the next decade by embracing digital technologies and moving more services online, a new report has claimed.

The DCLG-commissioned study surveyed local government staff and found councils using digitisation to cut costs saw average savings rise from around £1.1m to £1.4m over the last year.

Around 65% of respondents reported making savings this way and if similar gains were applied proportionately across local government the figure would be close to £500m a year.

The report said: ‘Looking to the future there could be every expectation of continuing these savings from digital work, year on year – over a decade this could lead to in excess of £5bn of savings to the public purse. Such estimates must, of course, be treated with caution but they generate some useful rough figures for debate in these austere times.’

Local government minister Kris Hopkins urged authorities to follow the lead of ‘trailblazing’ councils like Hampshire which looks set to save around £7.5m by switching services online.

‘Can do councils have led the way by proving that hundreds of millions of pounds can be saved every single year just by waking up to the digital dawn,’ he said. ‘It is high time the rest of local government follows suit.’

Cllr Roy Perry, leader of Hampshire County Council, said: ‘Digital public services offer a significant opportunity to reduce costs and make services more personal, accessible and joined-up around the needs of their users.

‘Digital gives us another opportunity to reduce our asset base, providing the potential to significantly increase the savings.’

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