Friday 27 February 2015

Only £1 million in January for Capita

Barnet's January supplier payments are published and there are just a few items of interest. Capita billed a modest £1,059,978.80 significantly down on the £16.69 million paid in December.

The bill for Comensura in January was £1,304,913.12 which shows no sign of reducing. In December Barnet made an advance payment to Comensura of £1.25 million something which I queried with the Council. In response to and FOI request they stated:

"The Comensura payment prior to Christmas was to ensure business continuity and cover payment to agencies for provision of a temporary workforce during the Christmas closure period. This was offset by a credit note in the first week of January by Comensura to LBB."

 Frankly this doesn't wash. The requirement for temporary or interim staff during the Christmas closure period is minimal specifically because the council is closed and the £1.25 million represents an entire month's typical payments. According to the January supplier payments the credit note was paid on 30 January. So for a month from 23 December till 30 January Comensura had an interest free loan of £1.25 million. I wish someone would be that kind to me because I reckon that is worth around £5,000.

On a few of the minor payments, I'm not sure why Re spent £2,374.98 with Evans Cycles. Perhaps they are getting staff out on their bikes? It looks like CSG are considering who they bank with as they have spent £3,276.20 with Focus on Banking who are consultants that specialise in reducing banking costs and work extensively with local authorities.

Barnet spent £11,925 with M.E.L. Research Ltd who help council with services like:

  • Residents Surveys
  • Budget Consultations 
  • Research on access to services

Just a shame that having spent all that money to consult with residents, Barnet consistently ignores what they say.

Parking contractor NSL was paid £278,495.62 in January but I wonder if we are getting value for money from this contractor - Any views Mr Mustard?

Penna Consultants were paid £19,500 for "Employee Expenses" for which I think it means payment to a consultant but commercial confidentiality prevents understanding any more.

Finally the bill from Vodafone was pretty high at £166,630.05 in just one month and one I just can't reconcile. I think it needs a bit more attention for cost cutting rather than cutting the library services.

I will keep watching supplier payments - because someone has to!

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Barnet Housing Commission - Do we need some radical solutions?

Last night Mrs Angry and myself were invited to give evidence to Barnet Labour Housing Commission. There were several other speakers including an very interesting and helpful speech about cooperative housing groups which seem to make a great deal of sense. Make sure you read Mrs Angry's blog here setting out her speech and I have set out below a copy of my presentation. The purpose of my presentation was not to come up with a final solution but to stimulate debate on some new ideas.