SOCITM (Society of Information Technology Management)
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Socitm responds to 'Funding outlook for councils'

The 'Funding outlook for councils from 2010/11 to 2019/20', published by the Local Government Association, makes an important contribution to the growing debate over the future of public services in the UK. Socitm welcomes the report and supports its key finding, a funding gap of some £16.5 billion by 2019/20.

Having established the overall funding gap, the report sets out a scenario in which, assuming demand in social care and waste are fully funded, other services will face cash cuts of more than 66 per cent by the end of the decade. Furthermore, assuming that capital financing and concessionary fares are also funded in full, the modelled cash cut for remaining services rises to over 90 per cent. Given that local government is the most efficient part of the public sector and will maintain that record, the report makes the simple but compelling point that efficiency will not be enough to close the gap. Indeed, without money and reform, the report claims there will be no solution.

Jos Creese (Chair of the Local CIO Council and a Socitm past president) says:

"It is abundantly clear from this report and other evidence that simply cutting overheads and so-called back office functions will not achieve anywhere near enough to meet the funding gap faced by the public sector in the future. This is why the Local CIO Council and Socitm Planting the Flag strategy for ICT-enabled local public services reform is so important. It envisages and advocates a future where the design, delivery and management of public services are fundamentally changed to take advantage of new ways of working and new technologies. This will mean positioning the professional role of IT at the heart of change and using technology to underpin shared services, efficiency, innovation and service improvement. All this needs to take place with an open conversation between councils and residents about how much tax they want to pay and what services they want to receive in return."

The report suggests that the starting point in thinking about sustainability rests in the reform of the biggest consumer of budget, namely social care. Taken together with health care, a debate over service outcomes and the intelligent deployment of ICT within localities, Socitm believes that new options for service funding, delivery and access can be exploited, building on the work already done to make local public services more accessible and efficient.

Kay Brown (President of Socitm) says:

"The opportunity to reform the nature and delivery of health and social care, enabled by new technology, is only just beginning. Massive steps forward are possible to deliver significant service innovations and results. The trick, then, is to sustain those innovations into significant rollout nationally. Recent projects such as 'Connect Digitally' and 'Tell us Once' provide the evidence that local public services, given the right funding and incentives, can do just this."

Further information

Rebecca Griffiths, Socitm Office
Tel: 01604 497591 e-mail:
rebecca.griffiths@socitm.net

Martin Ferguson, Director of Policy and Research
Tel: 01604 497774 or 07931 456238 e-mail:
martin.ferguson@socitm.gov.uk



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