Councillor raises concerns over lack of detail on costs for new Vale Council IT project

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A councillor has expressed his concern over the lack of detail on how much a new social care IT system at Vale of Glamorgan Council will cost. The council's cabinet approved recommendations for the authority to enter into an agreement with Merthyr, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Bridgend councils for the procurement of a new digital record keeping system.

The council currently uses CareDirector, also known as the Welsh Customer Care Information System (WCCIS), but this will no longer be supported from January 26, 2026. Plaid Cymru councillor Chris Franks called in the council's proposal for scrutiny at a meeting on Friday, May 24 to check whether it will offer value for money and consider any associated risks.

At the meeting of the council's healthy living and social care scrutiny committee, Cllr Franks said: "The report is full of financial risk and I cannot find what the maximum cost of the project is and in terms of the impact of a failure of this project, what would be the impact on the service users." Mentions of cost in the cabinet report on the procurement agreement include that the Welsh Government will contribute £2.6m and that the councils will have to fund the majority of the implementation costs themselves. For more news, sign up to our newsletter here.

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It also mentions that a fee will need to be paid to the authority carrying out the procurement on behalf of the others in the partnership agreement, which will be Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council (RCTCBC). Vale of Glamorgan Council said that as procurement has not been carried out yet and because the process is still in its early stages it is not possible to provide details on costs.

Another member of the healthy living and social care scrutiny committee, Cllr Russell Godfrey, said he also had concerns about the procurement agreement. He said: "There [are] no figures anywhere mentioned in the report, not even approximate."

The Conservative councillor added that this concern included the fee that will go to RCTCBC, for which, he pointed out, there is not even a "ball park figure". Vale of Glamorgan Council underestimated how much it would have to pay on installing new IT software that it uses for managing its finances and payroll.

The local authority initially estimated the cost of installing Oracle Fusion to be about £1.5m, but this eventually went up by £3.7m. Council officers said Covid-19 posed major challenges in getting that particular project up and running and that local authorities across the UK are experiencing issues with a lack of specialist resources and procurement specialists.

On the CareDirector replacement project, Vale Council cabinet member for social care and health, Cllr Eddie Williams, said the council is still in the development phase and in the process of "scoping" what the requirements are. However, he reassured scrutiny committee members that the Welsh Government funding will be there for the scheme.

He said: "That [funding] hasn't come forward yet, understandably so because of the context and the difficulties with a project this size. Nevertheless, it is there and in time it will come forward for this project."

Some scrutiny members also noted the importance of carrying out the procurement in a timely manner to make sure that the current care record system can be replaced before the January 2026 deadline. Cllr Susan Lloyd Selby said: "Clearly we have to take action and we have to take action in a timely manner to ensure that we are ready for that change."

The council's report on the matter says that it is "essential" for all social care users and services to be moved from the CareDirector system to the new one within "stringent timescales" to "ensure that organisations will not be working on unsupported systems that pose a risk to citizen's safety and wellbeing". A timeline published in the same report shows that the new system is expected to be implemented from August 2024 to December 2025.