Calderdale councillors will be asked to approve paying £2.9 million towards upgrading the council’s IT systems.
Cabinet member for Resources, Performance and Business Change, Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) told colleagues at Halifax Town Hall that it was something the council had to do.
She compared the spending needed to that on a car engine – it was hidden away and other policies might look more colourful like the vehicle’s exterior – but it was crucial to the council’s performance which would break down with out in an era when use of digital technology was becoming increasingly important and prevalent for local authorities.
“It’s what’s under the bonnet – that means we have to keep on top of investment, wise investment” she said.
“I think this is very much an investment whose time has come.
“We have been cutting for years but at the same time demand in IT services is increasing, systems are getting older and an additional issue is cyber crime.”
Cabinet approved upgrading the systems at an overall cost of £4.9 million over between five and seven years, with some money available from the council’s own IT funds.
Full council will have to agree to including the £2.9 million, prudentially borrowed, in the council’s capital programme.
The costs will be spread among all its departments, she said.
Coun Scullion added efficiencies would also have to be found, through things like more online meetings cutting down on mileage payment costs – this would also support the council’s air quality policy.
Coun Megan Swift (Lab, Town) asked if different systems had been looked at ans Coun Scullion said officers had made comparisons and the recommended ones would best meet the council’s requirements.
Upgrades needed over the next few years include updating the council’s Cisco Phone system now at a cost of around £350,000, its Windows 7 system by January 2020 at a cost of more than £1.5 million, its MS Office 2010 system by October 2020 at a cost of almost £2 million and its Oracle and IT Core network by May 2021 at a cost of £1 million.
Calderdale’s IT service has a budget of £3.6 million net – around two per cent of its budget – and 80 full time staff.
But it supports the council’s core infrastructure service, in-house systems it has developed (these alone have saved the council around £5 million in the past three years), third party systems, and project and service development work.