A mountain of paper records which is clogging up Leeds City Council buildings - and hiking up mileage claims as staff drive to access the documents - is to be digitised, with the hope of saving the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds in the long term.
The project will see 600 filing cabinets’ worth of information - relating to 57,000 council housing tenants - being converted to ‘e-file’ format.
The plan will save almost £600,000 in the first year and £732,000 over the next five in costs of storing and looking after the data mountain.
However it will also cost almost £300,000 in the first year to implement, with the main cost being the scanning of documents.
The council also wants to empty some of its buildings and move staff to cheaper to run offices. It will then sell off the freed up buildings and put the money back into the public purse.
A report just signed off by senior officers at Leeds City Council explains: “Housing management staff are unable to move out of their local area offices due to lack of space for paper records which they need access to.
“The service has 600 filing cabinets which hold information on 57,000 council tenants.
“Staff need to access these files daily across the city at the request of tenants or by colleagues.
“By implementing an eFiles solution, not only should staff be able to provide a more local service in their intended location but, it will also drastically reduce the amount of mileage claim costs.
“Once staff have moved to their new locations, this will give the potential to reduce the council’s portfolio of buildings by using others more effectively.
“This will subsequently deliver better services to the citizens of Leeds.”
A number of Leeds council neighbourhood offices, including Kippax, Horsforth and Bramley, could be closed as a result of the project. It is estimated this could save £547,2000, and “these savings can be reinvested in housing priorities”.
The council is now on the hunt for an “external partner” to digitise and reduce its paper mountain.
It is not yet clear if the digitisation plan will be extended to other council departments.