Council budget cuts: how local government can do more with less through intelligent automation

Posted by Allan Hendry

With UK local government facing a budget gap of more than £3 billion in 2022/2023, there's a substantial challenge to curb costs. At the same time, councils need to continue providing all the vital services people rely on.

Is this an irreconcilable problem? Thankfully, no.

By modernising with intelligent automation, it's possible for organisations to get more done with fewer resources.

Let's explore exactly what intelligent automation can do for local government. But first, we'll break down the term.

What is intelligent automation?

Here is a straightforward definition:

Intelligent automation is the combination robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), to boost productivity and scalability in an organisation's operations.

Intelligent automation differs from normal automation by incorporating AI and ML to expand automation into tasks previously performed by people. That's because, thanks to AI and ML, it can deploy a level of analysis, reasoning and judgement to take on more complex activities.

Consequently, organisations enjoy a series of key benefits. These include improved accuracy, better customer experience, and (crucially for local government) reduced costs. By augmenting the workforce, it's possible to get more done with fewer resources.

How intelligent automation can serve local government

Having explored what intelligent automation is, let's turn out attention to a couple of real-world use cases to better understand how it can help councils.

Here are two examples of what's possible:

  • Processing invoices. RPA can automate data input and error correction to make processing invoices easier. However, when you use machine learning too, you can also handle multiple and unusual formats. The machine learning will understand and then extract the relevant data and pass it back to the RPA system. As a result, you need less human intervention.
  • Validating benefit claims. The use of RPA is already spreading through UK local government. For example, North Tyneside reduced the number of days spent processing new benefits claims from 36 days to 25 days. Deploying AI and machine learning can deliver still more for councils. That's because it can use image recognition to scan bank statements and other documents to extract relevant information. This empowers the RPA technology to do even more.

Coping with council budget cuts

Currently, local government is crying out for more money so they can continue delivering their services.

Whether they get the boost of funds or not, intelligent automation can help them provide value to the people they serve at a lower cost. At the same time, it brings other benefits like improved resiliency and higher employee engagement.

However, it can be problematic to deploy intelligent automation (and its cutting-edge technologies) without prior experience.

So, if you'd like to talk with one of our experienced team members about how we can help, please get in touch.