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Sharing councils could lose data

In the UK’s local government, the vast majority (96pc) of councils are already sharing some services with neighbouring authorities. These range from back office functions, IT and customer services to social care, public health and housing benefits.

Figures provided by councils to the Local Government Association (LGA) suggest that shared services contributed to savings of half a billion pounds for UK taxpayers in 2016. However, research from a storage and information management services company suggests that many front-line information management staff question some of the benefits of sharing services. According to Iron Mountain, almost half (49pc) of those surveyed highlighting concerns about the possible loss of information as it is moved between locations.

Approaching half (44pc) of Records and Information Management (RIM) staff welcome the greater efficiencies and best practice that shared services can bring, but many doubt whether the move can deliver other benefits such as reducing workloads, improving performance, facilitating mutual support between professionals or effectively integrating information belonging to authorities.

While around one in three of the information management people surveyed believe such benefits are achievable, senior figures within local authorities are more optimistic. For example, 34pc of RIMs cite a reduction in work and record duplication as a benefit, compared to 44pc of business leaders[iii]. Similar results are seen for the benefits of overall performance improvement (36pc RIMs/41pc business leaders), mutual support (35pc RIMs/41pc business leaders) and integrated information (34pc RIMs/39pc business leaders).

Almost half (49pc) of RIMs and a third (33pc) of business leaders surveyed in the Iron Mountain study believe that having to move information between organisations will place it at greater risk of loss or exposure. Close to one in three in both groups (28pc RIMs/30pc business leaders) agree that different approaches to information security could expose sensitive information to greater risk.

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Phil Greenwood, Director at Iron Mountain said: “Our research shows that the drive towards sharing services is widely accepted. However, there’s a difference of opinion between those responsible for managing information across the UK’s local authorities and the senior business leaders in their organisations. The information managers are more sceptical about results and raise serious concerns about potential information loss and exposure. To address these concerns and ensure that the security of personal information isn’t compromised, senior managers and records and information professionals will need to work closely together to identify best practice and make sure it is widely deployed.”


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