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Research validates strategic importance of technology to address funding challenges in UK local government

Bristol, UK, 

Newsfacts

  • Concern about funding cuts remains high
  • 34 per cent of 1,086 interviewees do not know what G-Cloud is
  • 63 per cent of organisations are using shared services

Unit4, a fast growing leader in enterprise applications for service organisations, today released independent research among 1,086 senior UK local government staff on technology trends in the sector. Shared services are viewed as important to address ongoing concerns about funding levels; security is still the major barrier to adoption of cloud computing, and 34 per cent of respondents do not know what G-Cloud is.

The research “Current funding challenges, appetite for shared services, and use of cloud across the UK”, reveals the sector’s thoughts on the external challenges faced, and whether shared services, cloud and G-Cloud are being adopted to help to maintain services in the face of shrinking budgets.

External challenges

When asked about the greatest threats to their organisations over the next 12 months, 98 per cent responded reduced funding and 65 per cent listed it as a severe threat. The second biggest threat of the five measured was the loss of key staff through redundancies or retirement.

65 per cent of respondents believed shared services will help address funding challenges, with business transformation the next highest at 63%. Interestingly, and pointing to its strategic importance, 80 per cent of senior executives at board level or above believe technology will help save money, compared with 51 per cent of the sample as a whole.

When asked which areas are considered a priority by your organisation to reduce costs, only three per cent said government frameworks were a high priority, suggesting little awareness of the various schemes which have been implemented.

Shared services

According to the research, and emphasising the importance of shared services, two thirds of the individuals surveyed asserted that their organisations already used a shared service. 34 per cent see it as a high priority.

HR & Payroll was viewed as the most likely area for sharing with other organisations (by 63 per cent). Shared services wide appeal was evident among senior staff.

Cloud Computing

Despite cloud in many ways being more secure, security is the main concern for local government, with 50 per cent seeing it as the greatest barrier to adoption. However, 27 per cent didn’t see any of the seven listed barriers as a concern.

When it came to the G-Cloud – the Government’s framework for procuring cloud-based services – only three per cent said they used it already and 34 per cent didn’t know what G-Cloud was.

“This report lays bare the considerable and ongoing concerns about reduced funding,” said Mark Wilson, Interim Managing Director of Unit4 for the UK and Ireland. “It is encouraging to see that senior management in local government see the strategic role technology has to play in meeting the challenges, it is certainly reflected with our own experiences, Coventry City Council for instance saved £3M with a new finance system. Shared services has also rightly gained traction over the last few years as councils seek to maintain services despite funds falling.”

Unit4 is the leading provider of back office systems to local government in the UK. It commissioned the report (which can be found here) from Dods Research who sought opinion from,1,086 senior local government staff across the United Kingdom.

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