Smarter use of technology could save local authorities billions

According to a report, Small Pieces Loosely Joined, published by the think-tank Policy Exchange, local authorities could save £10 billion in the next five years by using “smarter and more collaborative” technology and data implementation.

The report states that councils lose over £1 billion per year through unidentified fraud, a lack of data sharing or collaboration and continuing to use individually tailored IT systems is keeping the cost of public services “unsustainably high”.

The report gives three recommendations to deliver high cost savings and provide an improved public service:

  1. Using data to predict and prevent fraud: collecting and analysing data from numerous sources to predict and identify future or current fraud which costs in excess of £1.3 billion across local authorities.
  2. Data sharing initiatives would reveal how multiple local authorities to merge or share services rather than developing and maintaining their own solutions.
  3. Instead of local authorities using bespoke IT systems, councils should use services that can be utilised across multiple authorities to reduce costs; with a recommendation of an “app store” developed by individuals, businesses or organisations to support public services.

The report suggests that councils will face a funding gap of £12.4 billion by the next decade, with many of the cuts in public funding being shouldered by local authorities and these recommendations are some of the ways in which local authorities can cope with such economic restrictions.

Eddie Copeland, author of the report, said: “While there are examples of innovative councils that have used technology and data to deliver better, more efficient public services, many local authorities have failed to reform.

Using technology and data in a smart way could save local authorities £10 billion by the end of the next parliament – money which could be better targeted at helping some of the most vulnerable in our communities”.

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