One of the largest county councils in England, Lancashire serves 1.1 million people living in diverse conditions; from rural countryside to the cities of Manchester and Liverpool.
The council has achieved the top rating from the Audit Commission and maintained its ‘Four Star’ status and has also been given an ‘improving well’ rating for its potential for future improvement. Lancashire intends to keep this billing and believes that ICT will help. Its ICT strategy is intended to help close the ‘digital divide’ by increasing access to technology and helping people improve their skills. It also aims to use ICT positively to transform public services and make them more efficient with a solid infrastructure and shared services.
The council’s declared priority for 2006 to 2009 is to improve its customer access, which will focus on putting the customer first and enabling telephone contact, face-to-face contact and self-service. ICT is intended to play a prominent part in this by helping front line staff to locate information quickly and easily; making it easier to get questions answered over the phone; and improving access to services over the website. Lancashire is also using a content management system to run its new e-learning portal, which is designed to appeal better to a youth audience.
Long-term investment and government funding, Lancashire says, mean that not only will services improve but also that it will generate at least £6.9 million a year efficiency savings for the 2007/2008 budget.