Local government budgets are being squeezed and document hosting can help.

How document hosting helps local government bodies save money

Local government bodies have been forced to dramatically cut costs in the wake of the global economic downturn as part of chancellor George Osborne's ongoing austerity drive. As they strive to save money wherever possible without heavily impacting on service delivery, these organisations are looking to adopt new ways of working, such as switching to online document hosting. Here, we take a look at the extent to which local government budgets are being squeezed, and examine how online document hosting can help to achieve the necessary savings.

How much money do local government teams have to save?

Austerity measures have seen local authority budgets trimmed by £18 billion in real terms over the past five years, according to a recent Financial Times analysis of council spending. Further reductions are expected in the short to medium term, with at least another £9.5 billion predicted to be cut by the end of the decade.

Considering all of England's more than 300 local authorities, these cuts equate to around a fifth of total spending. Indeed, budgets for local services such as street sweeping and social care have been slashed at twice the rate of overall UK public spending reductions.

Local government spending surged under the Labour government throughout the noughties, but by 2012 it had fallen back to levels not seen since 2005. Furthermore, budgets have been under even greater pressure as councils now have a larger number of elderly people to look after.

However, there are clear signs that councils are handling the challenge of reduced budgets very effectively. Public satisfaction with the way local authorities are run has either risen or stayed the same in most areas, and there are signs that councils are becoming more resourceful when it comes to opening up new revenue streams. So how exactly are councils managing to trim their outgoings while still keeping people happy?

Smaller offices: An easy way to reduce budgets

One obvious way for local authorities to cut costs – without hampering services – is to move into smaller, cheaper premises. Many councils have chosen to downsize, often resulting in different departments sharing office space together for the first time.

Of course, councils looking to reduce their floorspace in order to save money have to overcome an obvious challenge: how to fit the same amount of equipment, furniture, files and other office essentials into a physically smaller area.

Online document hosting helps councils cope with less office space

Storing swathes of paperwork can be a significant issue for local authorities, particularly those looking to relocate to smaller premises. Fortunately, there is a simple solution to this problem: online document hosting.

By storing documents online rather than in bulky files, councils can free up a significant amount of floorspace. In fact, in the average modern office, paper documents take up almost a fifth of available space.

What's more, this solution makes information far easier to access. A range of powerful search tools are available, meaning digital documents can be identified and shared quickly and easily.

Document hosting doesn't even require the installation of any special software. It can be operated via a standard browser, allowing people to access the information they need whether they're based in the office, at home, or on a business trip – even if they are travelling overseas.

Disposing of all that old paperwork

Once they've made the transition to online document hosting, councils will naturally find themselves with a large quantity of unneeded paperwork to dispose of.

Fortunately, Storetec can help here too. As soon as we've digitised a council's archive, we can ensure it is securely storedshredded and recycled, in line with the authority's document retention policy.

All that's left for councils to do at this point is work out how to make the most efficient use of this newly freed-up space.

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