Council to save £2.3m by pursuing new online services

Cheshire East Council could cut up to 100 jobs of frontline customer service staff as the council pursues a ‘digital by default’ approach for its customer services and save £2.3 million a year.

The drive to improve digital services for residents is likely to result in 94 full-time staff being laid off, largely from the council’s contact centre.

Cheshire East is investing £4.9 million to make its website increasingly user-friendly, including smartphone and tablet compatibility as nearly half of customers access digital services via mobile devices.

A council spokesperson said: “the council’s digital customer services programme aims to make all council services and information more accessible through a digitally enhanced web site that will be easy to use and tailored around an individual’s specific needs and requirements.

Currently there is a potential for 70% of Cheshire East residents to shift to digital interaction with the council and we know that 36% prefer to use digital channels.

The digital service will be of enormous benefit to people in remote areas, in particular, who do not have easy access to council buildings.”

The financial net benefit to the council and ultimately council taxpayers is £2.3m.

“If staff numbers are affected by the changes, then the impact on resources will be managed in accordance with the Council’s restructuring and redeployment procedures.”

Resident Peter Aston, from Congleton, warned “there are people who don’t have access to the internet or are not computer-savvy. The council needs to be very careful when moving everything online that it doesn’t disenfranchise this area of society.

Phone, mail or face-to-face services need to be kept alongside those online,” he added.

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