West Sussex County Council serves more than 750,000 citizens and spends more than £370 million per year on educating 100,000 pupils and another £130m a year on social care. And the population is growing with new companies springing up throughout the county as West Sussex, with its proximity to London, Gatwick Airport, Europe and a skilled workforce, is perceived as being ideally suited for start-up or expanding businesses.
Unfortunately this promising situation is set against a backdrop of increased budgetary restrictions. In March it was revealed that the government’s funding formula was leaving West Sussex much poorer than other councils. In 2007/8, West Sussex will receive about £105 per resident, which compares with an average for England and Wales of about £350 per head. Separate government figures revealed that West Sussex depends on council tax for a far larger portion of their budgets than most other councils in the country. In 2006/7, about 80 per cent of West Sussex’s budget came from council taxes.
So the council is looking to IT to make savings. The council anticipates that by migrating more applications to the Websphere and xSeries platform, launched last year, it will see long-term cost savings through the greater introduction of self-service. The council’s website has received acclaim from the Society of IT Managers (SOCITM), which says that West Sussex is on the list of the top six best county council websites in the whole of the UK for content and usability.