Surrey council extends communications network contract with BT
The contract for BT’s network for integrated voice and data communications across Surrey and Berkshire has been extended until 2021, as Surrey County Council claims it is on track to save £3.5m.
Surrey has extended BT's contract by two years - Photo credit: PA
The public services network, dubbed Unicorn, for Unified Communities over Regional Networks, is run by BT for 25 public sector bodies, including Surrey County Council, the 11 district and borough councils, as well as health, schools and fire services in the region.
It aims to help the group tackle budgeting, resourcing, and increased demand for services as a group and offer savings to all those signed by allowing them to pick from a catalogue of services – such as managed local area networks, mobility services and managed WiFi – through the same platform.
A seven year deal was signed in 2012, and this has now been extended to run until 2021, after the project was deemed to be running to plan.
Denise Le Gal, Surrey County Council’s cabinet member for business services, said: “With rising demand for services like adult social care meaning money’s really tight, we need to do everything we can to make taxpayers’ money go further - and this deal is on track to save £3.5m over its seven years. That is why we have extended the contract by two years.”
Meanwhile, Central Surry Health is also expecting to make savings, with its director of IT Mike Davies saying that the organisation had seen a 25% cost saving compared with its previous network.
The public services network was recently connected its 500th site, a number that includes more than 40 libraries in Surrey, and BT’s managing director for public sector Colm O’Neill claimed the additional site and the contract extension as a “vote of confidence” in the service.
“What we are seeing with Unicorn makes a strong case for a collaborative approach to procurement and lays the foundation for much closer public service integration that will help public sector budgets go further,” he said.
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.
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