Saturday 1 June 2013

Barnet Outsourcing and a Capita inspired £167k solution

In the latest Delegated Powers Report it notes the huge problems of staff retention in customer services, revenues and benefits and procurement departments that are due to be outsourced. The report states:

 "The current staff turnover rate within these services shows a loss of circa 32% of total staff numbers throughout the life of the procurement and early stages of mobilisation. This directly affects these public facing front line services and will be reputationally damaging for the Council". 

Now this report tries to pin the problems currently being experienced on the judicial review and appeal but the statement above reveals the truth  that the outsourcing programme itself, where staff know they will lose their jobs, has caused them to leave in their droves - why wouldn't they.

So to get around the problem CAPITA have suggested a solution which is to use CAPITA'S  "overflow staff" (I guess they mean their call centre staff in Darwen and Blackburn) to help the staff that remain and who await their redundancy notices if the judicial review appeal is unsuccessful.

The interim contract will cost £167,625 and will only run until 21 June in the hope that the judicial review appeal will have been heard by then (as they say, Barnet have two hopes, Bob Hope and No Hope and Bob Hope is dead). Part of this deal also includes what they term a" skeleton team" to prepare for the handover after the appeal hearing.

The report states that "This interim measure is for a 4 week period and does not prejudge the outcome of the Judicial Review appeal proceedings nor is the Council entering into the NSCSO contract prior to its formal commencement". I think that is to keep the lawyers happy.

Now we wouldn't be in the mess of the Council had actually carried out a proper consultation exercise in the first place, something Lord Justice Underhill was clear about in his judgement and I suspect one of the key reasons that an appeal on the technicality of timing has been allowed.

All of these types of problems should have been anticipated and should have been built into the risk register when the entire outsourcing programme was being considered. As ever our Councillors stuck their head in the sand and believed everything they were told by their hugely expensive advisors.

This is a mess and has been from the start. The DRS contract looks even worse given that it seems almost entirely dependent on generating new business from other local authorities something which brought about the demise of the infamous Southwest one Contract and which closer to home has been shown not to work for the beleaguered Your Choice Barnet contract. Councillors need to face up to reality that the whole One Barnet outsourcing project has been an extremely expensive mess and the sooner they recognised it and seek an alternative solution the sooner they can refocus on running an efficient and effective council.

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