Monday 2 December 2013

Money for consultants and new bin lorries but not for the elderly or disabled?

Barnet's October supplier payments are out and as readers will know I read through them carefully.
The bin lorry saga continues. Last month Barnet put through £2million worth of invoices for the new bin lorries. I requested these invoices under FOI and found that this was only a PART PAYMENT. This month a further £4 million of invoices for the new bin lorries was put through and I understand there may be another £2million  worth of invoices still to appear. Some have said that we had to buy new lorries because the old contract had come to an end. However it is common practice to purchase usable equipment at the end of a contract for a written down value. EU statistics in 2011 showed that the average age of heavy duty vehicle fleets has increased to 11.5 years. People are running their cars longer and to my mind that seems like a sensible strategy so long as the vehicles remain reliable. However the culture in Barnet seems to be spend, spend, spend if there is a budget for it. That is neither frugal nor prudent.

And speaking of spend, spend, spend, our friends at Agilisys received a rather sizable £198,947.40 whose bill for implementing One Barnet is now over £8 million. I would have thought that now the One barnet contract has been let we would have seen an end to this massive spending but clearly that is not the case.

Legal advisors Trowers & Hamlin billed the council £385,648.74 in October, long after the judicial review is at an end, so I wonder what this is for?

And as for Capita or RE Ltd to give them their Barnet DRS trading name, they billed a cool £5,177,323.95 in October. When this contract was being discussed I specifically asked if Capita's bill would be broken down or whether we would simply get a single massive bill for their charges. Well yet again I was misinformed, misled or otherwise deceived into believing there would be complete openness.

With two massive outsourcing contracts in place I had foolishly assumed that the bill for agency and interim staff would have come down. Not in Barnet. In October the Council spent £1.22 million with Comensura  who handle all temporary or agency staff payments yet at the same time hundreds are staff are in the process of being made redundant. This seems utterly wrong.

All of these massive payments need to be set in the context of the cuts that are taking place to adult social care and children's services. Anyone who watched the report from the Task and Finish Group into the changes taking place at Your Choice Barnet cannot failed to have been moved by the plea to reinstate services for those with real needs yet we are still wasting vast amounts of money on professional fees.

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