We are experiencing a time of significant change for the UK Public Sector. Reductions in real-term budgets are at levels unsurpassed for many areas of the Public Sector and this is at a time of increasing demand on frontline services, most notably to:
- The NHS – The population is aging, the demand and spend per person is increasing (NHS England, 2017)
- Local Government – Central Government funding for Local Authorities has been cut by 77% between 2015 and 2019 (Local Government Association, October 2018)
- Police – Police numbers per capita are 11% lower than a decade ago and the cost per crime is increasing as new crime types emerge (National College of Policing, 2018)
- Central Government – The demand for planning to support the exit from the European Union is in direct conflict with cuts to departments budgets
One of the potential solutions to continuing to provide valued frontline public services is the ability to leverage digital technologies. Government Ministers are viewing digital transformation as the remedy to their departments’ ills. This was highlighted by the Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock’s first speech as a Minister where he focused on the need for technology investment in order to reduce the pressure on front line services.
“From today let this be clear: tech transformation is coming.
The opportunities of new technology, done right across the whole of health and social care, are vast. Let’s work together to seize them”
Matt Hancock MP, July 2018
The focus on digital transformation is welcomed by both consumers and vendors of Public Services. However, following a number of years of austerity, many authorities are in a position of significant technical debt from both an infrastructure as well as an applications perspective. Many do not have the basics in place to continue to support their existing estates, whilst at the same time they are being asked to design, deliver and support technological change. Examples include:
- The delay in updating and adopting current operating systems. Devices running Microsoft Windows 7 are still estimated to make up over 40% of the Public Sector desktop estate. Despite the fact that Windows 7 support and security patching will end in January 2020, many organisations still do not have a plan in place to update their hardware or software estates to enable the move to Windows 10.
- Cloud adoption.The Government Digital Service (GDS) have been forced to reiterate the “Cloud First” strategy in 2018, five years after its first proclamation, as the move to cloud has stalled.Without exploiting Cloud computing, GDS fear that the Public Sector will lack the ability to effectively work collaboratively, share data or open up citizen services to the extent required to enable true transformational change.
- Security and Availability Management. The WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017 affected at least 19,000 NHS procedures and appointments. At least one Higher Education Institution lost access to key systems on A-Level results day in 2018, losing hundreds of potential fee-paying students as a direct result of older, non-resilient IT systems without a focus on Availability or Security Management.
Without these fundamental building blocks in place, the ability of organisations to deliver their digital vision in the short and medium term faces an uncertain future.
It is clear that Public Sector organisations wish to both remedy the technical debt challenges and also adopt new ways of working. However there are a number of common reasons behind why they find this a challenge, namely:
- A lack of digital leadership and strategy across the organisation
- Budgetary constraints especially from a capital point of view as other initiatives often take priority over mundane IT refresh projects
- Unclear Return on Investment (ROI) from Infrastructure refresh when further organisational and funding changes are likely in the near future
- Skills shortages caused by a mixture of Public Sector pay freezes at a time of an expanding marketplace, especially in Cloud and Digital Transformation roles coupled with the changes in accounting around IR35
- Lack of modern tools and processes to support IT through transformational change. A key issue in the reluctance of public sector organisations to migrate to cloud is the difficulty they experience managing the cloud and legacy infrastructure. 48% of NHS Trusts and 53% of Central Government departments state that they use four or more monitoring tools to manage their data infrastructure, experiencing complexity and additional costs in the process (GDS, 2018).
SCC has solutions to assist the Public Sector in meeting these challenges, amongst many others. We have a deep pool of expert skills around infrastructure design, implementation, change and support across both legacy and new technologies. We can offer innovative funding solutions to meet customer challenges. We are a UK based and privately owned organisation with over 43 years’ experience in delivering IT services, employing over 6000 people.
Find out how we can help here.
Sean has been designing and delivering IT Services across the Private and Public Sector for the last 20 years. He is currently SCCâ€™s Principle Solution Owner for Public Sector, helping and advising Public Sector organisations design and deliver services which improve outcomes, deliver better citizen services and cut costs.