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Council’s Digital Move to Avert £10 million of Cuts

July 27, 2016 5:48 PM
Originally published by Dave Hodgson - Mayor of Bedford Borough

Desktop computerBedford Borough Council will pursue a plan to make greater use of digital technology to save £10 million per year. In a speech presenting the plans at a recent meeting of the Council's Executive, Mayor Dave Hodgson described the pursuit of a digital operating model as vital in order to prevent service cuts which would 'change the Council beyond all recognition'.

In comments laying out the extent of the impact of government cuts, Mayor Dave went on to explain that they have caused a 'full-blown funding crisis' for councils, in combination with a rising need for services.

By pursuing a digital operating model involving redesigned processes using digital and online technology, it is estimated that £10 million of savings can be achieved every year by 2019/20. These savings would otherwise have had to have been made up through cuts to services. The estimated £10 million savings will make a major contribution to closing the £23 million funding gap the council faces by 2019/20, with other savings to be achieved via changes in procurement and other technical issues, and changes to services.

The decision to pursue the digital operating model was approved unanimously by Executive as part of its Business Transformation Programme, with detailed work in drawing up the model to follow.

Commenting, Mayor Dave Hodgson said: "This Council is well known for avoiding cuts and closures of services in the face of the massive government funding reductions of recent years. With the government continuing its punishing programme of cuts upon cuts for councils, we are taking radical action to minimise their impact on local residents. The pursuit of a digital operating model follows a fundamental review of what the council does and how it does it. The work will ensure the council makes the most efficient use of available technology across all of its processes, reducing costs while protecting services as far as is possible.'

"There is no point sugar-coating any of this: the government has caused a full-blown funding crisis for councils and we face tough decisions on services which we frankly don't want to make. But these plans will ensure the council is doing everything possible away from the front line to protect services."