Council requires £46m to implement malfunctioning system

Credit: Birmingham City Council

Birmingham City Council is set to ask its Cabinet for £46.53m to enable it to implement its new IT system.

The new leader of the council Cllr John Cotton revealed last month that it expected to overspend by £80m on Oracle, meaning the total bill would stand at £100m.

Its Cabinet will now assess a report into the issues experienced with the recent role out of the payment and HR system and the council’s request for £46.53m this year to fund the required work.

The requested funding will come from a combination of existing service budgets, reserves and potentially capital receipts.

Plans to implement Oracle were approved in 2019, with the expected cost standing at £20m – however the system has needed customising to meet the council’s existing business processes.

The full extent of issues was uncovered in April this year by senior officers and councillors.

Critical elements of the system were not functioning, meaning payments have had to be made manually, which has created a backlog. This is impacting upon the council’s ability to formally ‘close’ its accounts for the year 2022/23. The council says it is working closely with its external auditors, with the goal to close its accounts by the end of August.

In addition, it admits there have been issues related to recruitment, data management and monitoring processes to update renewals of DBS checks. It issues that manual processes are in place, with a priority on people working with children and vulnerable adults.

Birmingham City Council says that an independent management review will explore why the issues took so long to emerge.

Cllr Brigid Jones, cabinet member for finance and resources at Birmingham City Council said: “It is never easy when implementing a new IT system for an organisation of our size and scale – but there are lessons to be learned from what has happened and I am determined that the council will learn from this.

“Most important of all right now is the need to work at pace to resolve the issues we are facing and to be open and transparent about what they are. The focus of the council leadership on this will be relentless in the weeks and months ahead.

“Through this report, we detail what needs to be done and the plan for how to fund this, giving us a way forward to ensure effective and efficient systems and processes are in place as soon as possible.”

The plan to deliver Oracle is due for approval next Tuesday (June 27).

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