Deal to connect public services on course to save council £3.5m

Surrey County Council is on course to save £3.5m after spearheading an initiative to replace scores of networks with just one.

The authority handed BT a seven-year contract to create a single computer and communication system for a host of public services in Surrey and Berkshire in 2012 using cloud technology.

Now Surrey has confirmed that the move has saved £2m on the previous deal in the first four years of the contract – with a further £1.5m of savings expected in the remaining three.

It has also been estimated that the 25 other public services connected to the network, including all 11 of Surrey’s boroughs and districts, fire and ambulance services and the NHS, have saved up to 25% on previous costs.

That has led to BT’s deal to operate the network – known as UNICORN – being extended by two years to 2021 with the aim of getting more public services to join.

Surrey County Council’s cabinet member for business services, Denise Le Gal said: “With rising demand for services like adult social care meaning money’s tight, we need to do everything we can to make taxpayers’ money go further – and this deal is on track to save £3.5m over its seven years. That is why we’re planning to extend it by two years.”

Mike Davis, director of information management and technology at Central Surrey Health (CSH), said: “With UNICORN we not only saw a 25% cost saving compared to our previous network, but also most problems are fixed before we even know about them.”

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