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G-Cloud fails to offer councils support in key areas – Socitm

Much of the software used by local authorities to support duties like planning, housing and social care services is not currently available on the government’s G-Cloud, Socitm says. 

The public sector ICT representative body added that while local government has to date made less use of the G-Cloud than central government, it has engaged with the programme from its inception and played a significant role in G-Cloud creation and implementation. 

Martin Ferguson, head of policy at Socitm, said: “G-Cloud is already a useful procurement framework. However it is still in its relative infancy, as is cost-effective public cloud provision for use in councils more generally. 

“However, what will make the G-Cloud increasingly attractive will be the flexibility to use it in ways which deliver best value and sustainable IT architectures fit for the future, especially where these impact on councils’ increasing need to join-up and deliver services with partners in health, police, voluntary and other sectors.” 

Responding to a story earlier this week about county councils only spending £385,000 on IT services through the G-Cloud framework, Socitm says that it is “incorrect to conclude that councils are forgoing savings from using cloud services”. 

While it does not dispute the data about the proportion of spending going through G-Cloud, it states that it overlooks the fact that G-Cloud is a procurement framework, not a ‘cloud’ in the sense generally understood of a service whereby software can be rented and hosted off site. 

“Consequently low use of G-Cloud does not correlate with low use of cloud services, and indeed many councils are using cloud services via other procurement frameworks or procured directly from vendors like Google,” said the organisation. 

PSE contacted the Cabinet Office to ask them why software to support the key business areas outlined by Socitm is not being provided to any great extent via the G-Cloud framework. A Cabinet Office spokesperson told us: “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% of this with SMEs. 

“Today, 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. 

“For our part, we will continue improving G-Cloud and CloudStore making it easier for suppliers and buyers to use.”

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