Millions spent on council websites
16 August 2010
Councils have been spending large sums of taxpayers' money on revamping their websites, despite the need to cut costs, a series of Freedom of Information (FoI) requests have revealed.
The top spend on website redesign came from Birmingham City Council, which admitted in 2009 to spending £2.8m on its website.
This was followed by Essex County Council, who told the BBC in July that it spent £800,000.
Following new FoI requests, the Telegraph has reported that councils across the country are spending large amounts on web design, although some local authorities are spending far more than others.
The newspaper reported that the average mean spend on website redesign has been £100,000.
In total it reports that there were 285 redesigns over the last 10 years by 122 councils, with one council changing the appearance of its website eight times in the same time period.
Some councils have justified the spending as a way of meeting the requirements of the public. "Major developments in internet technology in the past seven years mean the website no longer fully meets the needs and expectations of our customers", a spokesman for Medway Council told the Telegraph. The council has therefore allocated £250,000 for a redesign, although its last £600,000 redesign took place in 2003.
Publicservice.co.uk reported in August on Civica's suggestion that councils could provide citizen focussed IT services
and save costs by using existing ICT infrastructure.
However, the new FoI requests suggest that spending on website redesign from 81 councils over the past 10 years totals £7.56m.
This comes at a time when significant staff cuts are being made in the public sector.