National Audit Office: ESN forecast to cost £3.1bn more than planned

The National Audit Office (NAO) has published a new report on the work to deliver the Emergency Services Network (ESN), in which it notes that “implementing ESN is now expected to cost £3.1 billion more than forecast in 2015, and the revised forecast costs are highly uncertain”.

In total, the project is expected to cost up to £9.3 billion to 2037, up 49 per cent from the figure given by the Home Office in its 2015 business case. The Home Office has delayed approving the business case for the reset until later this year. It is also expecting to revise its cost forecast later in 2019.

However, the Home Office still expects ESN to be cheaper than Airwave in the long-term, expecting the project to break-even in July 2029, seven years later than initially planned (assuming it now stays on track) and the total financial and economic savings are expected to be £1.5 billion in the period to 2037. That said, the NAO notes that the Home Office has not revised the assumptions regarding police efficiency savings from its 2015 business case and that the adoption of mobile technology by police forces since then “means the impact of ESN on police productivity (the largest forecast economic benefit) may now be less than the predicted efficiency saving of five minutes per officer per shift.”

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