Approval for spending millions of pounds over a five-year period on upgrading essential information technology (IT) systems to keep supporting services and keep data safe will be discussed by Calderdale Council leaders.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet will be asked to approve £4.9m of spending when it meets on Monday, March 18, at Halifax Town Hall (6pm).
With increasing importance of technology in life, it has to be fit for purpose, councillors have been told.
Many council policies and budget cash savings hinge on increased use of IT to provide services and improve access to them and as well as being fit for purpose good protection plays a key role in protecting the council and its citizens from cyber crime.
The report to Cabinet says: “The first line of protection is to keep digital systems up to date and replace them before their technical support expires.”
Some of the necessary updating is imminent but the upgrades do not come cheaply, so it looks like the council will have to spend the money.
Upgrades 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.
Cabinet are being asked to approve upgrading at a cost of £4.895 million and agree to fund the IT Infrastructure programme using £1 million from the council’s IT reserve to reduce the revenue investment required from £1.970 million to £970,000.
Cabinet is being asked to recommend to full council that £2.925 million is included in its capital programme to allow relevant modernisation programmes to be implemented, funded by prudential borrowing up to a maximum of £2.925 million.
Looking ahead Cabinet councillors are asked to build into the Medium Term Financial Strategy revenue funding of £308,000, £468,000, £643,000 and £928,000 required to be spent on IT in 2020-21, 2021-22, 2022-23, 2023-24/21 to allow for the necessary capital and revenue investment – and identify compensatory savings in the budget to cover the cost.
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.
As the council’s systems and staff have to cope with rapid rates of change and a big upsurge in people using mobile devices, social media, high-speed broadband and open data, there are opportunities for the council to use technology – despite challenging financial conditions, investment is critical, says the report.