Sunday 9 June 2013

My Questions on the DRS Contract

On Tuesday there is a meeting of the Budget & Performance  Overview & Scrutiny Committee (7pm Hendon Town Hall). Set out below are the questions I have submitted:

1.       How much additional gross revenue is required to generate the net income growth share to Barnet of £33.8 million?
2.       What circumstances have changed between March 2011 and today to justify a tripling in net income growth?
3.       In the March 2011 business case it stated that cost reductions over the period of the contract would amount to £19.7 million yet the Capita bid suggests the savings are now forecast at only £5.3 million or just over £500,000 per annum. What reason has been given for a saving that is only 26.9% of that originally forecast.
4.       At Table 7.1 in the business case it illustrates that the DRS staff numbers will stay relatively static over the period of the contract. How can the same number of staff generate so much more additional revenue?
5.       At Table 8.2 in the business case it suggests that the £5.3m guaranteed benefit represents a saving of 3.5% of costs. It also says that CSL will retain 13% of the cost savings as their fee. Based on my calculation that means that CSL will receive £31.8 million of the costs reduction. Does this seem to be an equitable split of cost savings?
6.       Where will the 21% reduction of core operating costs be made given that staff numbers are virtually unchanged over the period of the contract.
7.       At Table 8.2 in the business cases it states that pre-purchasing of graves will deliver additional benefit. As an advance payment for a service to be provided in the future surely it should not be counted as additional revenue?
8.       At Table 8.2 in the business cases it states that there will be extended opening hours (at Hendon Cemetery and Crematorium) and additional cremation activities. What opening hours are envisaged and will this mean that local residents will have to wait longer for their loved ones to be cremated unless they choose an early morning or late night slot?
9.       How much additional highways advertising will we be forced to endure in order to generate the additional £9.8 million of guaranteed benefit?
10.   Of the £6 million investment in IT what is the phasing of that investment over the 10 year contract period, what specific software will be purchased and what mechanism is in place to ensure that the money promised is actually spent?
11.   Where specifically will the DRS staff be located?
12.   How many posts will be joint employment contracts?
13.   What happens if council and Members’ do not approve new services or changes to fee levels or fee structures and how does this impact on the guarantees?
14.   If the contract is terminated early how much will Barnet have to pay CSL in compensation?
15.   When a planning decision is made, who will make that decision, a Barnet council employee, a Capita employee or an employee of a new joint venture company?
16.   Given that the report states that Capita Symonds will maximise the financial and economic benefits of new developments including increase receipts of New Homes Bonus what reassurance can we have that they will not push through massive new housing developments simple because they have a financial incentive to do so?
17.   Who will sit on the board of the Council wholly owned company that will manage its interests in the Joint venture company, how many company directors will be created and how much will they be paid?
18.   Will directors of the Council wholly owned company sit on the board of the joint venture company and what level of decision making will they have discretion over?
19.   What provisions are in place to stop the directors of the council wholly owned company or the joint venture from paying themselves excessive salaries?
20.   What is the anticipated level of corporation tax payable by the joint venture company over the ten year period of the contract.
21.   On page 12 of the business case it states that one of the reasons why a joint venture was favoured over the original strategic partnership is that “the risks were lower”. Please can you clarify which risks are lower under the JV model and are there any risks that are higher?
22.   At page 14 in the business case it states that the council reserves the right to veto salary and rewards schemes above £150,000. Is that £150,000 in total for all DRS staff or £150,000 to any one individual?
23.   At the end of the 10 year contract how will the joint venture be dissolved, what liabilities will accrue to the Barnet wholly owned company and how will DRS staff be separated from the staff carrying out duties for other customers?
24.   Why are 30 posts to be added in year one only for them to be removed in year two, will the posts to be removed in year two  be the individuals are were brought in in year one and what safeguards do existing staff have that Capita will not simple bring in 30 new staff on much lower terms and conditions and then make 30 Council TUPE’d staff redundant at the end of year two.
25.   At the end of the contract can the shares in the JV owned by the Barnet wholly owned company be sold to a third party?
26.   Why was this report cleared by Trowers & Hamlins not the council’s own legal service (outsourced to Harrow Council) and does this not represent a massive conflict of interest given that Trowers & Hamlins have provided legal advice on the outsourcing project?
27.   Why were registration services included in the 2011 business case but excluded from the Capita bid and who will provide registration services when the DRS contract is let?
28.   Please can you tell me what, specifically, is the Barnet Observatory?
29.   Is there any requirement in the contract for Capita Symonds to hold open meetings with the general public to explain what they are proposing and how the new contract will operate?
30.   Will the chairman consider setting up a separate workshop meeting open to and involving members of the public at which a more detailed analysis of the contract proposals can be discussed.

Let's see if I get some clear answers!


  1. I have only one question Mr R and that is why have Cabinet members not already asked these questions?

    A. I'm sorry I haven't a clue.

    1. Mr Mustard, Perhaps you confusing a timeless and hilarious radio show with people who don't give a sh*t?