London Councils splash out on IT increasing budgets by one third

Research from the Parliament Street think tank has revealed that London Councils have increased IT budgets by £121,498.56 in the financial year of 2017-18, up from £88,565.35 in the previous financial year of 2016-17 which is a total increase of £32,933.21

by News Reporter on 11 October 2018 11:57

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Councils in London have boosted IT training budgets by 37% over the last two financial years, according to new research from UK think tank Parliament Street. The stats obtained via the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, found that the IT training budgets for the last financial year across the seven borough councils which responded to the full request equated to £121,498.56 in the financial year of 2017-18, up from £88,565.35 in the previous financial year of 2016-17 – a total increase of £32,933.21.

Topping the list with the highest IT training budget for the most recent financial year was the Royal London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which has earmarked £38,000, an increase from £6,000 the year before. Second to this was Waltham with a modest budget of £28,000 which is up from just under £6,000 in the previous year.

The research also revealed that from the 14 London councils that responded, IT staff headcounts had increased by 16 per cent over the last three financial years, breaking into the thousands for the last year. The London boroughs of Hackney and Havering had the largest IT teams with 145 staff members each this year whilst Merton had the least with 24 members of staff.

One of the largest increases in staff members is Hammersmith and Fulham who reported having a team of just 11 members in 2015/16 which has now increased to 65 in the last financial year. When questioned about IT budgets as a whole, the research found that the most recent financial year’s total budget was just shy of £155 million, from the councils that gave the data.

At the top of this list with the largest budget for the last financial year was the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, which had earmarked £16 million. Second to this was Haringey with a budget just under £14 million and third was Westminster with a budget of £12.8 million.

Sheila Flavell, Chair, Institute of Coding Industry Advisory Board and COO at FDM Group said, “It’s clear that IT has a critical role to play in the delivery of modern, efficient public services, but the current digital skills crisis means that many organisations are still struggling to find qualified candidates to fulfil these roles. There are no quick fix solutions to this problem, but more collaboration between industry and academia is key to ensure courses are tailored to reflect the skills which are in-demand in the jobs market.

At a time when tech budgets and job allocations are booming, much more needs to be done to ensure the next generation recognise that choosing to study STEM subjects can lead to incredible careers with impressive pay and prospects. It’s also time to widen access to high quality qualifications, by allowing existing workers to develop their skills through flexible study programmes, whilst holding down their day job.

Working together to close the skills gap will ensure we have an abundant and diverse pool of IT talent, which will be crucial in powering the UK’s digital economy for the future.”

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