Cash-strapped councils missing obvious opportunities to save

03 Feb 2021

As the fight against Covid-19 remains ongoing, organisations across the UK are continuing to adapt and evolve to help to deter the spread of the virus. With the second wave forcing more people to work from home, councils are feeling the pressure, with a greater workload and reduced budgets.

Faced with some extremely difficult decisions, Local Authorities are managing changes to departments, with new processes and procedures to enforce, while ensuring the most vulnerable have access to critical services.

Furthermore, as central Government becomes increasingly reliant on Local Authorities, in addition to all general duties, councils are expected to manage an influx of omnichannel communications to explain social measures and Covid-19 guidelines to constituents.

As many councils continue to rely on manual post rooms, with administrators required to print, check, distribute, track and record all deliveries, these functions are feeling the strain. Worryingly, adding further stress to an already outdated system, volumes are showing no signs of slowing.

With budgets at some Local Authorities for print and post reaching seven-figure sums, Critiqom, the omnichannel communication public sector specialist and Opus Trust Communications company, is encouraging cash-strapped councils to outsource these services and save time and resource.

Gerry Crawley, Director of Critiqom, comments: “Councils are faced with the biggest challenges of our lifetime. They are over stretched, under resourced and expected to cut budgets. There is no surprise that some consider it an impossible task!

“Having worked with Local Authorities throughout the UK for years, we know that they focus on bigger budget items. But we want them to realise that one obvious answer to cost savings is hiding in plain sight!

“The solution is to forget print rooms, multifunction printing devices and the like, instead outsource all omnichannel communications to an expert, rely on Hybrid Mail for all critical mailings utilising digital mailroom technology and redeploy your resource where it is needed most.”

With many councils benefitting from a Hybrid Mail solution, Critiqom has reported a significant increase in demand for the service across the UK from Fife Council to London Borough of Hounslow. As the virus continues to impact on every business and individual, it is predicted that this trend will continue.

Gerry continues: “Rather than eating up the budget by relying on post rooms and onsite administrative processes, implementing Hybrid Mail as part of a digital mailroom solution into councils’ communication infrastructure can deliver huge efficiencies.

“With Critiqom securely printing, mailing and delivering all critical communications in a range of formats such as email and text message, as well as letters, councils can potentially see savings of up to 20 per cent.

“Eradicating the need for costly third-party suppliers or in-house printing capabilities, means savings can be made across the entire council rather than just in one department.”

With the ability to use Hybrid Mail from anywhere and at any time, this solution also allows teams to move away from a statistic, office-based functions.

The increase in public sector customers choosing to rely on Hybrid Mail forms part of a wider digital acceleration for councils. Embracing new technology, those that have implemented the systems, have recognised the value in real terms.

In contrast however, with added financial pressures and the depletion of critical resources, many Local Authorities are not focusing on the positives that could come from automating administrative processes. As a result, they are failing to reap the widespread rewards that a change in approach can offer.

Gerry comments: “Councils are at a crossroads, they must adapt or run the risk of not reaching much lower financial spend targets and, at worse, bankruptcy. Moving our public sector customers to a Hybrid Mail solution means we can become a positive and disruptive force that enables Local Authorities to think and operate differently.

“We understand just how valuable it is to generate savings at every opportunity and the importance of carefully monitoring budgets. We regularly see major suppliers charging councils upwards of seven-figure spends to handle their mailing and printing needs, which is entirely unnecessary.

“We know it is our job to educate councils about alternative ways of working to show how easily they can be put into practice. At Critiqom we work alongside Local Authorities and guide them through their own digital transformation. This way, we can implement cost-saving measures that will impact on every department.

“We are all changing the way we live and work, so councils must also be willing to adapt as well.”

Public sector specialists