Reading Borough Council and its children’s services partner Brighter Futures for Children have announced the award of contracts totalling £13.2m, as they invest in their shared IT infrastructure that will lay the foundations for new, digital public services for local people.

The investment covers four areas of IT infrastructure – communications, hosting, networks and workspaces (including IT support) – that have until now been outsourced to a single company. The new, multi-supplier operating model comes into effect on 1st April 2021 and will see Agilisys taking over responsibility for hosting and workspaces, Virgin Media Business running communications technology for the organisations, and North managing networks.

These new partnerships will underpin Reading’s digital transformation plans for the next decade, enabling staff to work more flexibly, customer services to be provided in innovative ways, and communities and businesses to become better connected. Specialist digital consultancy Channel 3 Consulting is supporting the council with managing the transition between suppliers.

Councillor Ellie Emberson, Lead Councillor for Corporate and Consumer Services at Reading Borough Council, said: “This new operating model will help us provide even more value for money with taxpayers’ money. It is a stepping-stone to the vision of a connected Reading that will be laid out in our digital strategy later this year.”

From 1st April, teams will really have the tools that they need to excel and, importantly, this will translate for quicker and better outcomes for our residents.

Martin Chalmers, Chief Digital and Information Officer at Reading Borough Council added: “The signing of these deals is a critical and foundational milestone in our digital transformation. They give us the control and flexibility we need to shape digital capabilities to meet the needs of Reading’s residents, businesses and visitors; offer demonstrable value for money; and provide direct benefit to our communities.”

As well as helping Reading Borough Council and Brighter Futures for Children to build new, digital services, the three companies will be providing wider social benefits for the borough through various employment skills, digital inclusion and other initiatives.

Andrew Mindenhall, Chief Executive Officer at Agilisys, commented: “Agilisys firmly believes that partnerships should leave a positive legacy for communities. That’s why we’re delighted to be working with Reading Borough Council to deliver social value through funded places on the Fast Futures initiative, of which we are a founding partner, to ensure young people, post education, gain the vital workplace skills needed to secure part or full-time employment. We’re also providing a digital inclusion bursary and talks on the technology industry and career opportunities to pupils at state-funded secondary schools in the borough.”