Merton has this week been awarded £1million funding to lead on a ground breaking project introducing shared and standardised IT networks with neighbouring London boroughs.
Awarded by London’s improvement and efficiency partnership, Capital Ambition, Merton’s funding will be used for introducing internet based ‘Cloud computing’ to link the London Borough’s of Merton, Sutton, Kingston and Richmond with the main aims of increasing efficiency and reducing operating costs for all boroughs. If successful the strategy could be extended to all London boroughs. Initial assessments show that savings of around a £1 million are feasible in hardware replacement, and further savings will be possible in sharing other services.
The other main aim of the project is to maximise the benefits of the services Merton are already sharing with Sutton in HR and with the new trial partnership with Richmond sharing legal teams. By sharing servers and introducing a high-speed dedicated network it is hoped that the inconsistency between the boroughs’ different IT processes and systems will be removed and lead to faster working and maximised savings.
The successful funding bid means that the system could be up and running within a year and savings on connection costs and reductions through using ‘pay as you use’ systems could be made very soon after that. In the long term, standardisation of the way the system is controlled could also lead to a reduction in training costs. This innovative approach could form the basis of shared service delivery in other local authorities.
Councillor Mark Allison, Merton Council cabinet member for finance said:
” In a time when money is being taken away from local government, securing this funding is excellent news for Merton and all the borough’s involved.
“This is a pioneering project that could help us operate more efficiently and cheaply, which will be good for all our residents.”
Capital Ambition is London’s improvement and efficiency partnership. Over the three-year period 2008-11 we are managing approximately £36 million of central government funding to support London’s authorities and local strategic partnerships to deliver efficiencies, improve performance, and support innovative ways of working.