HMRC to put tax returns on cloud
HM Revenue & Customs has chosen an OpenStack cloud architecture from DataCentred to provide the infrastructure for its multi-channel digital tax platform. This will include storing the data for digital self-assessment, PAYE and Your Tax Account for small businesses.
The department aims to make its tax returns service predominantly digital by 2017, and its platform will enable users to access all their taxes in real time in a single place. It should make it possible to make changes in hours rather than days.
OpenStack is an open source software platform for cloud computing that consists of interrelated components that control hardware pools of processing, storage and networking resources throughout a data centre. Data Centred said its open sourcFe cloud platform will provide HMRC with scalable infrastructure required to ensure the secure and rapid delivery of the digital tax platform.
BCS calls for reckless data disclosure offence
BCS – The Chartered Institute for IT has urged the Government to explore whether reckless disclosure of the public’s data should be included as a criminal offence in the Investigatory Powers Bill presented by the home secretary.
This follows a survey of its members showing that 85% agree with the proposal, and that 76% tend to disagree or disagree strongly that in order to protect national security, companies should weaken or defeat their own security measures to provide authorities with access to content that has been encrypted.
David Evans (pictured), BCS director of policy, said: “Whilst government access to services is a useful tool, it is vital that citizens are able to protect themselves from both criminal and foreign state activity. Clarification within the bill and a clear expression of principle that the security of communications for individuals collectively will not be compromised, is required.”
Bromley signs BT for computing
The London Borough of Bromley has drawn on the pan-London framework for ICT services in signing a £9 million, five year deal with BT for computer and data centre services.
Under the agreement, the company will provide desktop services to 2,000 Bromley staff, and manage more than 350 servers for the council, with a go live date of April this year.
BT said this will give Bromley increased flexibility in running its ICT services, enabling it to scale up and down to reflect demand, and provide cost savings of about 10%.
Councillor Stephen Carr, leader of Bromley Council, said: “As we move towards our vision of being a commissioning council, we needed a company that would deliver excellent service but also respond to the changing shape of our business. The pan-London ICT framework set up by Westminster City Council and delivered by BT gives us everything we need. It provides us with clear and transparent pricing and a more efficient and streamlined buying process, helping us to speed up the delivery of projects and save money.”
Socitm points to platforms
Public sector IT association Socitm has said in a new report that local ICT functions and the services they provide are becoming 'platforms' upon which place based thinking and local services can be developed.
The Shifting Sands report makes the point that, as central government devolution and health and social care policies play out, the intended role of local government is changing, with a growing emphasis on joining up organisations and the data/information they hold across localities.
The simple, straightforward in-house ICT model is fast becoming outdated, and local authorities are experimenting with various forms of ICT services trading companies, some spun out as semi- or fully-independent entities trading in the open marketplace. These sometimes challenging the ethos of ‘for the public sector by the public sector’.
Two examples are highlighted: Delt Shared Services that provides ICT services to Plymouth City Council and the Devon Clinical Commissioning Group; and Durham County Council's ICT Services business.
The report is available free to Socitm Insight subscribers and accessible from the Socitm Insight Group within the Knowledge Hub.
Warwickshire takes on cyber crime experts ….
Two cyber crime experts are to join Warwickshire Police in providing updates on threats and advice for the public to help them stay safe online.
A report in the Nuneaton News says they will be based in Warwickshire County Council's community and substance misuse team, and work with partner agencies including trading standards, county and district councils and voluntary organisations. They will also develop an action plan in support of the Cyber Crime Strategy of Warwickshire's and West Mercia's police forces.
Ron Ball, Warwickshire's police and crime commissioner, said: "While there has already been a great deal of good work carried out by many individual agencies across Warwickshire to try and combat this trend, it was clear to me that a more coordinated approach would prove helpful and ensure that the right expert advice from all agencies can get out quickly and effectively to the public.
“This way of working has already proved very beneficial when tackling business and rural crime where I have provided funding for similar advisers, so I am delighted to be able extend this to cybercrime."
…. and shares data to fight fraud
Warwickshire County Council has launched a data sharing initiative within the local Counter Fraud Partnership to crack down on fraud.
All residents who receive or apply for social care grants, tenancy and council tax discounts will have their details shared across each authority in the county and the data matched so that any discrepancies can be immediately identified. The council said this will help identify potential fraud, and any errors, more quickly.
It has urged residents whose circumstances have changed to update their details with the relevant local authority.
New homes connectivity deal
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has reached an agreement with the Home Builders Federation and BT Openreach to provide superfast broadband connectivity to new homes in the UK.
The deal will see fibre based broadband offered to all new developments either for free or as part of a co-funded initiative. It is estimated that more than half of all new build properties can be connected to fibre broadband free of charge to developers.
As part of the agreement, Openreach is introducing an online planning tool for homebuilders. They will also have access to a rate card from Openreach which details the fixed cost contributions required by homebuilders in those cases where joint funding is required.