Councils could save £500m a year through common platform components, says GDS

Written by Rebecca Hill on 6 March 2017 in News
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Individual councils could save up to £80m on IT spend alone over the next decade by adopting common platforms like GOV.UK Verify, according to government estimates. 

GDS has created a document to outline the benefits of Verify for local government - Photo credit: Derwent London

A briefing document published by the Government Digital Service and the Local Digital Coalition, which is partnering GDS on local government pilots of the identity assurance scheme Verify, sets out the benefits of using common platforms.

It aims to persuade local government to take on Verify and other common platforms by listing the potential cost savings councils could make, as well as the other benefits that shared platforms and standards offer.

The benefits are billed as being necessary to a sector that has seen a 25% real-terms reduction in income between 2010-11 and 2015-16.


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GDS said that cost-savings could be as high as £500m a year across local government.

“We estimate that transforming local services using common platform components (such as GOV.UK Verify and Notify) as well as based on common standards could save the sector between £300 to £500 million annually,” it stated.

“We estimate that if a local authority, providing a large number of services that need GOV.UK Verify, adopted the above approach it could achieve savings of £50m to £80m over 10 years on IT spend alone.”

Common, reusable components allow authorities to focus on innovating in service design, rather than rebuilding solutions, as well as providing economies of scale when it comes to running the services, and will make it cheaper to move between solutions, the document said.

It also notes that having common components gives “collective bargaining power” by “aggregating public sector demand when buying from the market”. This echoes comments made at last year’s Local Government Digital Service Standard Summit, where panellists urged councils to work together to demand more from the big suppliers.

The GDS document also estimated the annual savings for local authorities offered by using Verify on a set of local government services. These are: £51.6m for single person council tax discounts, £13.2m from digital adult social care means testing, £12m for Blue Badges and £8m for services dependent on data from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.

On top of this, the document said that Verify will minimise fraud, which is estimated to cost local authorities £2.1bn, improve business processes, and reduce costs associated with collecting, processing and storing large volumes of data.

Other benefits to using common standard and components include the creation of a truly digital service, which the document said would boost user satisfaction and reduce the number of people contacting the council, which would in turn free up staff time to focus on improving other services.

The document also sets out figures for savings achieved by GDS’ work on common standards and components, which include the £339m savings for 2015-16 that were announced to coincide with GDS’ fifth birthday last year.

There are currently 1.13 million registered accounts on Verify, and the government has set itself a target of increasing this to 25 million by 2025.

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