According to the Local Government Chronicle (LGC), the Socitm Trends report 2009-10 subtitled Stretched To Breaking Point revealed that an 11 per cent budget cut this year will hit attempts to slash spending elsewhere.
Elsewhere in the study, it was predicted that 2010 would see capital spending drop by a fifth, with central ICT outlay falling by eight per cent and departmental spending slashed by 16 per cent.
IT Trends editor John Serle called for technology to be used for better forward planning and suggested too many local authorities see computing as a utility rather than a "strategic resource".
He remarked: "It's no longer possible to meet the challenge by just doing what we were doing, better. We now have to rethink what we do."
The Government's chief information officer John Suffolk also commented on the report when it was released last week.
He said the current ICT model of running hundreds of data centres is not sustainable for the next decade and that the government must realise that the "world has shifted".
Writing on his personal blog, Mr Suffolk suggested this year will be "exciting and demanding" for the public sector as cost-cutting continues apace.
Richard Barton, PA's expert in ICT for Local Government, comments:
"These cost-cutting headlines are in line with challenges that our customers tell us they are facing. Unfortunately, behind these numbers, a perfect storm is brewing for ICT leaders in local government. The cuts are too deep to be achieved through incremental efficiencies and top-down cuts risk creating a vicious cycle of shrinking resources, falling morale and declining service. ICT leaders can balance the books by using ICT to increase savings in other services and functions but many CIOs will struggle to persuade sceptical directors. Furthermore, while new IT sharing and commissioning approaches could comfortably deliver these savings in the medium term, unless these initiatives are already in progress, it may be too late to find funding for the upfront investment needed.
"There is no point in complaining that the government or council doesn't understand how ICT works. The storm is coming and ICT leaders need to get ready. In PA's view, ICT leaders need to focus on getting the basics right and running their function as a professional business support service, opening up tough ICT choices to the chief executives and directors and providing reliable information and advice to help ensure the management team make well-informed decisions.
"This may include some relatively quick and cheap practical steps. For example, adopting service disciplines such as ITIL to optimise ICT performance, exploiting new commercial approaches such as collaborative procurement or applying more rigorous value tests to the ICT portfolio.
"Local government ICT cannot come through this storm unscathed but with discipline and focus ICT leaders can keep their ship afloat and on course."
To find out how to reduce ICT costs in your local authority, contact us now.