Saturday, 18 February 2012

More Bad News at Southwest One - Perhaps Barnet Should Take Note

Southwest One, a joint venture between Somerset County Council, Taunton Deane Borough Council, Avon and Somerset Police and IBM appears to be in yet more trouble.

In a speech given by Ken Maddock, Leader of Somerset County Council this week to the full council he roundly condemned the failings of Southwest One:

"As an administration we inherited a partnership that promised a huge amount, but it was not delivering. Southwest One’s accounts year on year show losses, staggering losses just published of £31million, and failures to hit modest savings targets. We have bent over backwards to try to make this partnership work, but we have to state clearly that our primary duty in looking after the public’s hard earned money is to make sure we get the best possible deals, that we get the best possible value for the public’s money. I have to say that Southwest One is failing this test.

We are currently looking at all our services and all our contracts to see whether we are doing the best we can for our customers, whether we are providing the best possible services for our customers and at the best possible prices for our customers. I have to say that Southwest One is failing this test.

We need a council that can cope with future government cuts and rising demand. We will need to be efficient and flexible. I have to say that Southwest One is failing this test.

Sadly, Southwest One is failing. It is failing to deliver promised savings; failing to cope with a changing financial landscape; failing to be flexible enough to adapt in challenging times and provide the best possible value for money. To make up for this failure, we will now accelerate our extensive review of everything that the council does.

Almost half our most vital services are carried out by private sector or not for profit organisations – we will look to increase this where appropriate. We will encourage social enterprises, partnerships, communities and voluntary groups to get more involved in what we do and what we run. We will look to put the customer at the heart of what we do. And we will do this whilst we continue to do all we can to make Southwest One work. But I have to be clear; it is failing; it is inflexible; and it is intransigent. We are therefore looking at all the options available to us.

I do have one final message for Southwest One – and that is to the staff and our Somerset County Council colleagues and secondees working there. The message is this - this continuing failure is not about you; it is about the contract, the complications, the failed technology, the missed opportunities, the lack of promised savings. It is about Southwest One itself, not about the people working for it."

Now this is coming from the CONSERVATIVE Leader of the Council.

Most sensible people would check to see is mass outsourcing is a good idea by talking to other people before signing up for a £1 billion contract. If I were Cllr Richard Cornelius I would be on the phone to Ken Maddock on Monday morning to double check if all the advice being fed by the numerous consultants advisors and senior officers is realistic or just plain b***s***. Experience at Somerset would suggest the latter is the case.

1 comment:

  1. Based upon documents we have been able to see there is absolutely no certainty that money will be saved by outsourcing. Much will depend upon the detail in the actual contract. My Solicitor has a saying: document your agreements and minimise your disagreements.

    Given the number of different services that are to be provided there is little chance that any great level of detail will be included in the Contract and then the arguments will start. Any changes needed will cost money and the supplier will have the council over a barrel.

    Give it 2 or 3 years and the outsourcing contracts will be torn up at great expense - ours.