INVESTING in new technology has saved Hampshire County Council almost £100 million, it claims.

This is almost double what the authority has spent on the investment – £48.8 million, which includes a new website, improved cyber security, and marketing system.

Its leader Councillor Roy Perry has said the cash injection is “making a real difference” to the way services are supporting people in the community.

Broken down, the investment has come in two waves. The first included a £3 million government grant, along with £10.2 million from the county’s pot, while the second saw civic chiefs sign off on £38.6 million-worth of funding.

This cash, the authority says, means they can keep delivering ‘frontline services’ while continuing to make savings.

“I’m delighted that equipping our staff with new technology is having such a positive impact on our services,” said Cllr Perry.

“Our intention from the beginning was to exploit the latest technology to help us find better and more cost effective ways of meeting the needs of Hampshire residents, across a diverse range of service areas. In this way, we can help to meet the funding gap we face, rather than making reductions to frontline services.

“Through the use of mobile devices, staff are now able to work more flexibly and make much better use of their time, which means more hours spent supporting people in the community – which is making a real difference, particularly with some of our most vulnerable residents.”

He added: “The council’s trial of Amazon’s Alexa voice activated technology to support adults with physical disabilities, to continue living independently in their own homes, has been widely reported nationally as a ground-breaking development.

“As a result of its success, we have committed a further £6 million to a project to help parents of carers of children and young people with disabilities. This will involve the installation of devices such as video and epilepsy monitors, movement sensors and humidity pads – with the aim of enabling parents and carers to gain more sleep, and helping them cope with the demands of their caring responsibilities.”

The authority says its digital programme embraces a wide range of improvements including web chat, robotics, cyber security and new software systems. By reducing time spend on repetitive, routine tasks, it adds, robotics is driving efficiencies and freeing up staff to focus on people rather than process.

There has also been a major overhaul of the council’s website – including the redesign and simplification of pages. Users are now able to access information more quickly and easily; and through use of new online accounts, can interact with the authority when, and how, they choose.

Cllr Perry said: “These improvements appear to have been well received by Hampshire’s residents – nearly 20,000 new online accounts have been set up in the first seven months. There is also a marked increase in the number of people making payments electronically – for example, 50 per cent of all payments for waste permits are now carried out online, and applications for volunteering opportunities across County Council services has increased ten-fold.

“Our challenge is to ensure that the county council continues to keep up with the pace of technological change, which is faster than ever. We’ve proven that the investment so far is making a real difference in people’s lives and at the same time, generating important cost savings.

“So we’ll continue to explore the opportunities that technology affords us to ensure that residents receive the services they depend on, in the most cost effective and innovative form.”