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Essex council brings in IBM to manage public services

The Conservative controlled council in Essex has announced a £5.4 billion deal with IBM which will see the massive computer conglomerate managing the supply of public services in the region. It is estimated that the deal will save the council 20% of the annual £1.2 billion budget over the next three years and could also lead to further cost savings and efficiency savings in the short to medium term. So is this a blueprint for the future county council public service sector under a possible Conservative government?

There is no doubt that bringing in an outside company such as IBM has the potential to strip out the ever-growing "fat" from the UK public services arena. This is an area which has become bloated and expensive to run with UK taxpayers picking up the ever-growing bill. It will be interesting to see if the move is replicated across Labour and Liberal controlled councils because obviously there will be some resistance from the union movement.

At a time when many have been criticising the Conservative party for a lack of new strategies and policies, today's announcement will go down well with UK voters with potentially enormous cost savings in the short, medium and longer term. Quite how the government will respond remains to be seen, because on one hand they need the support of the unions, although on the other they need to be seen to be cutting the fat from the public services sector.

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