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British Council

Volume 505: debated on Friday 5 February 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the reason for the cost of (a) IT for his Department and (b) the finance function for the British Council referred to in the publication Benchmarking the Back Office: Central Government; and if he will make a statement. (312682)

The information requested is as follows:

Cost of IT for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)

The figures reported in ‘Benchmarking the Back Office: Central Government’ equate to costs of £115 million in running and maintaining the FCO IT estate in 2008-2009. This reflects the fact that the FCO operates over a substantial global network on behalf of the Government overseas and needs to conform to strict security standards. The figure also includes temporary costs related to the transformation of our IT platforms. We expect IT costs to reduce following completion of this transformation.

Finance function for the British Council

The figures reported in ‘Benchmarking the Back Office: Central Government’ report were based on the British Council's published 2008-09 statutory accounts and include all UK and overseas transaction processing staff, corporate finance, management accounting, tax, treasury and training staff together with their share of IT and accommodation costs.

The British Council has embarked on a programme to double its cultural relations impact. This includes a global finance transformation project to ensure effective and efficient support services, which will deliver improved service quality and increased efficiency with significantly lower transactional costs.