Labour increase council IT spending by £400,000

cowanInterviewed by the BBC You and Yours programme on December 22nd Cllr Stephen Cowan, the Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, claimed (seven minutes in) that he had identified huge savings in IT.

He was asked:

“What have you cut then?”

He said:

“We are hoping to cut London’s most expensive IT service at £22 million – other councils are doing it for £12 million and less. We are going through the books with a fine tooth comb.”

So what is IT spending in the current financial year, 2014/15?

It is £18.5 million.

The previous year, 2013/14, it was £18.59.

What is it budgeted to be for 2015/16?

There will be an increase to £18.9 million. So rather than savings spending is going up by £400,000.

For all these figures this for the regular, “business as usual” spending. Any spending on one off new projects will be on top of that. (The total including special projects was £20.8 million in 2013/14 so it’s a bit unclear where the £22 million figure comes from even if that was including both regular spending and special projects.)

To be fair to Cllr Cowan he didn’t claim that he had cut IT spending – merely that he “hoped” to. The audacity of hope. But to highlight this as the key item for savings when spending on it will actually be rising in the next financial year is surely misleading to his listeners. The budget was published a couple of weeks later – presumably he was knew the figures when he gave the interview.

The truth is the big extra savings are coming from tri-borough arrangements – which Cllr Cowan has had tiddly squat to bring about.

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