THE amount of money spent on technology to enable remote working for Worcestershire County Council staff has soared by more than 150% in two years, new data shows.

Following a freedom of information request, Worcestershire County Council figures show just over £588,000 was spent on devices including laptops, smartphones and printers for its employees in 2020/21.

This figure was higher than in the previous period, with more than £660,000 spent in 2019/20. The Freedom of Information figures dated back to 2017/18. That year saw just over £350,000 spent on technology devices, with a sharp decrease in the year 18/19 to just over £258,000.

Sandra Taylor, assistant director for IT & Digital at Worcestershire County Council says these figures are not surprising.

She said: “There are normally fluctuations in spend on equipment year on year. This is for a variety of reasons including specific projects or programmes of work. Windows 7 support ended on January 14, 2020, and this necessitated a significant refresh of equipment during 2019.”

With resources already stretched, the council continues to spend more in technologies, Mrs Taylor said she believes this is necessary.

She added: "During the pandemic, like all other public sector organisations, Worcestershire County Council has closed many offices and moved to a remote way of working.

"Importantly here in Worcestershire, several new digital systems were rapidly developed to support staff, residents, businesses and our communities."

According to the FOI, The total costs are:

2020-21 - £588,102.71

2019-20 - £665,120.72

2018-19 - £258,141.68

2017-18 - £353,942.89

The council does not monitor whether employees are working from home or any of the Council's properties, or elsewhere.

Laptops and smartphones are provided as standard to support mobile working.