Barnet Council outlines Capita back office plan

  • 22 November 2012
  • From the section London

Plans to award a controversial £32m-a-year contract for a private firm to run Barnet Council's back office services have been revealed.

Capita would operate services including the council's call centre, payroll, information technology and HR for 10 years, if the proposals are approved.

The council said the contract would give a guaranteed saving of £120m.

But Barbara Jacobson, of campaign group Barnet Alliance, said it was likely to have a "great cost to Barnet".

The proposals are part of the council's One Barnet Programme which is seeking to make savings following a £43m reduction in government funding.

Barnet Alliance for Public Services, which is made up of residents, local organisations and trade unions, has been campaigning against the move.

Posts transferred

They claim £1bn of public money is being put at risk as they say nationally a quarter of such schemes have ended in failure.

Mrs Jacobson said: "The benefits they are boasting have an equal likelihood of great cost to the borough of Barnet.

"I find it hard to believe that they can guarantee these kind of savings over 10 years when we don't know what's going to happen to the economy and I am worried about the effects of transferring these jobs to Capita on the local economy."

The contract will account for 11% of the council's spending and 514 posts will transfer to Capita.

Of those posts, which account for about 15% of the council's total workforce, 458 are currently filled - 407 by permanent staff and 51 by people on fixed-term contracts.

The proposals would see Capita make an up-front investment of £8m to improve the delivery of services with upgraded IT and telephone support.

Residents would also be offered an account with the council they can use to link a range of council services.

Leader of Barnet Council, Councillor Richard Cornelius, said: "The bottom line is that this will give us £120m to spend on public services in Barnet which we would not otherwise have.

"The alternative... is to make much bigger cuts in front-line services and jobs over the next couple of years."

Mr Cornelius said the proposals would also give residents a better service as "we will have contractual commitments to improve the services compared to current council performance".

But Mrs Jacobson said the risks were high and the residents of Barnet "have absolutely not been consulted on this".

Mr Cornelius said he would be recommending the council's cabinet approves the proposals at a meeting on 6 December.

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