Islington Council slammed over plan to buy iPads as services are cut

Terry Stacy

Terry Stacy - Credit: Archant

Cash-strapped Islington Council has come under fire for splashing out a million pounds on IT equipment, including iPads and hand-held computers for staff.

The new budget, which goes before the full council tonight (Thursday), includes a one-off payment of £1million to help staff work away from the town hall – including the purchase of tablets and handheld devices.

Islington Council was unable to say exactly how many tablets it would buy and how much they would cost, but the breakdown includes £500,000 on a “laptop refresh” and £250,000 on “desktop visualisation”.

The opposition Lib Dem group say this is a waste of money and questioned whether it is an appropriate use of taxpayers’ cash while other services are being cut.

But the council says it’s an innovative idea that will save cash and enable specialists to spend more time with vulnerable residents.

Cllr Terry Stacy, leader of the Lib Dem group, said: “Yet again, we see that Islington Labour councillors have totally the wrong priorities.

“Spending cash on the latest gadgets for staff is not appropriate right now, when so many residents are struggling and when council services and staff are being cut.

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“How can Labour councillors say they have no money when they are spending nearly £5milllion on redundancy payments to staff and now want to spend this money on new tablets and hand-held computers?”

He added that Lib Dem councillors would vote against the move at tonight’s meeting.

A spokesman for Islington Council defended the scheme.

He said: “The proposal is to invest in information and communications technology, so staff can spend more time on frontline work and so the council can save money.

“This includes piloting the use of tablets, for example, by social workers, who will be able to spend more time with clients by completing paperwork in a client’s home instead of having to return to the office.

“There will also be investment in updating existing infrastructure for remote working, which saves money by reducing the amount of office space we need.”

The extra £1million is in addition to the £1.5million the town hall spends every year on IT.

Islington Council has to slash £121million from their spending between 2011 and 2015.