O2 offers financial backing for local authority IT projects

By Sooraj Shah
27 Apr 2012 View Comments
People working at Hackney Council

O2 has launched an initiative to help IT teams within local authorities to connect staff, citizens and communities through technology.

The scheme, dubbed the Future Fund, aims to help councils to bring to fruition ideas and projects that they think will benefit either the surrounding community or the ways in which their employees work.

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Successful applicants for the scheme will gain access to O2 consultancy time, services and technology. O2 is offering three funding packages up to the value of £50,000, £75,000 and £125,000.

The initiative was announced as the UK economy returned to recession for the first time since 2009, after figures from the Office of National Statistics showed that the economy shrank by 0.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2012.

On the back of the 2009 recession, Chancellor George Osborne announced spending cuts for all public sector organisations, the majority of which have yet to be made.

In a consultation exercise, O2 found that 70 per cent of ICT departments in councils believed that the widespread budget cuts across the public sector were a significant obstacle to adopting new technologies.

The mobile operator said that in the current adverse economic climate, council decision-makers want solutions that deliver an immediate impact in terms of improved services or reduced costs, and are less willing to experiment with innovative solutions.

However, Neil Prior, head of local government at O2, argued that councils still wanted to embrace technology.

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