Supplier payments for November are out and yet again the fallacies of savings are cast into doubt. Back in July I blogged about a question Cllr Mark Shooter had asked at the full council meeting relating to the spend on interim and agency staff. The Council response implied large savings had been made but I knew the figures were utterly misleading and when Cllr Shooter queried the figures the answer was laughable.
Question 5 Councillor Mark Shooter
What was the trend in the last quarter of 2013/14 with regards to the council’s spend on agency
Answer by the Leader
There was a 12% reduction in agency staffing expenditure. Agency staff costs incurred during
2013/14 was £3.276m lower than in 2012/13.
Can the Leader confirm that these figures are correct?
By one definition, these figures are correct. However, overall, they do not give the full picture and this will be communicated in writing.
In November Comensura billed Barnet a massive £1,630,620.33 bringing the running total for the financial year to date to £9,554,145.16 and running slightly ahead of the same period last year. What I want to understand is why, 15 months into a massive outsourcing contract, are we still spending so much on agency and interim staff. I also want to know why Capita were paid in advance over £360,000 in Gainshare payments for supposedly anticipated agency staff savings which do not appear to have materialised and what steps are being taken to recover that money with interest from Capita. At a time when further outsourcing is being planned it seems ridiculous that we are spending so much money on agency staff.
Other major payments in November were Capita who were paid a shade under £2 million, Barnet Lighting, our flawed and financially disastrous Street Lighting PFI was paid £451,028.56 particularly galling when having replaced all the lights to make them brighter they then dimmed over 90% of the street lights to save on electricity. Barnet's car parking contractor NSL were paid £561,615.28.
We were also charged £143,750.84 by Facultatieve Technologies Ltd. This company installs and repairs crematoria, so this appears to be yet another bill for Hendon Crematorium where we have already been charged £856,081 in the last 18 months.
We also saw the reappearance of an old favourite this month. Impower Consulting, the partners with Agilisys in the One Barnet programme were paid £27,290.75. Perhaps they are trying to sort out the mess they left behind given that so many of the council staff involved with the project have left the council.
As ever I shall be keeping a close eye on Barnet's spending in 2015.