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G-Cloud take up slow in county councils – FOI reveals

The government’s G-Cloud framework has yet to take off in county councils with only a small proportion  investing their IT spend in the two-year old initiative, Freedom of Information (FOI) requests have revealed.

In the last financial year, the UK’s county councils spent almost £440m on all aspects of IT, a figure which covers salaries and costs for more than 3,200 staff, along with support services and outsourcing, software and hardware systems.

However, of this figure, just £385,000 was spent on a total of 12 separate services bought from the government’s G-Cloud.  The findings came from analysis carried out by Bull Information Systems from responses to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, issued to 26 county councils.  

Despite spending an average of £17m per year each, just eight of the 26 councils bought services through the CloudStore last year, with the 12 purchases ranging from £1,511 to £154,911.

“Councils are currently spending vast sums on IT and employing an army of staff to manage these systems,” said Andrew Carr, CEO, Bull UK & Ireland. “It is difficult to argue with the core principles behind the G-Cloud and in theory it offers the natural next step to greater efficiencies for councils, giving them the chance to reduce spend on their own hardware and software and just buy the exact amount of computing resources they need. In reality, though, the approach is flawed.”

He added that there are too many barriers to uptake. “The red tape surrounding public sector procurement means councils are often tied into long-term contracts with large enterprise suppliers and therefore are not flexible enough to take on such a major transformational change,” said Carr. “Also, public sector staff often lack experience in procurement; expertise in the solutions themselves, and critically the drive to disrupt the status quo.”

But a Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “G-Cloud has come a long way in a short time, with total G-Cloud spend across the public sector reaching £175m in April 2014, and 60 percent of this with SMEs.”

He added that more councils than ever before are using cloud services because of the benefits they bring.

“However, we know more needs to be done to raise awareness of its potential and encourage use. Only then can organisations benefit from access to the most innovative, cost-effective solutions by a wide range of suppliers and pass these savings on to the taxpayer.”

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