It’s always great to hear what WMTPA supporters and local residents have to say about public spending within the region, and I was recently emailed by gentleman who was both shocked and confused by the amount of money being spent by Birmingham City Council on an IT system.
Already the implementation of the said system has needed £305k in consultancy. That’s £180,856, or £1,222 per day for one lucky, but notably unnamed agency (why won’t they name the people who are spending our money???) and Service Birmingham also trousered £124,490 in 7 months for their advice. The kicker – however – is the cost of the Children’s Integrated Management System (CICMS) is the cost of the technology itself, standing at an enormous £19m.
Phew! It better be efficient for that sort of cash. Apparently it’s job is to “modernise working practices and make it easier for social workers to keep track of vulnerable children”, a very admirable task, and spending this sort of money should mean that cases like that of Khyra Ishaq – heard in court this week – should become things of the past. A recent scrutiny report revealed that Birmingham City Council’s records regarding children at risk were in such a lamentable state that the Secretary of State said that this action must be taken.
But still why, asks our activist, are Bolton Council in the North West talking about replacing the same system (or so it seems) for £150-200,000?? Granted, Birmingham City Council are bigger with more vulnerable children under their watch, but not 95 times bigger! Just what has caused this huge increase in cost from one council to another?
We’re always worried about how competitive contracts and procurement are in local government, and this looks as though the taxpayer are getting poor value for money. On the face of it, these two systems will perform the same task (albeit there’s a discrepancy in size between the authorities), so if anyone can explain just why Birmingham are spending £18.8m more, please do let the WMTPA know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.