Thursday 22 February 2018

Is Barnet Capable of Managing its Outsourced Contracts?

Next Tuesday is the Performance and Contract Management Committee meeting. Reading the 119 page Performance Monitoring Report it makes my heart sink at how poorly some of the contracts are being monitored and managed and how performance management seems to be a box ticking exercise. You can read the report here at agenda item 7.

I have submitted a series of questions on a number of agenda items set out below. It will be interesting to see the responses.

  1. Can you explain why the Commissioning Group budget has risen from £20.2 m in 2016/17 to £35 million in 2017/18?
  2. On page 42 risk AC028 identifies the lack of a fully functioning case management system. Who is responsible for managing and maintaining this system and how confident are you that the draft plan to implement remedial works is actually working?
  3. On page 44 reference is made to Barnet’s Children’s Commissioner and her report of January 2018. At 4.23.3 of her report she made specific reference to the role of the PCM Committee, raising a question over whether that Committee has the capacity or capability to scrutinise and monitor complex children’s services effectively. Why was this not highlighted in the papers for this meeting and how are you going to actually address this serious concern?
  4. The Children’s Commissioner also noted that there is a culture in Barnet of over optimistic and over reassuring reporting to members. How confident are you that the reports you are receiving in these papers are not over optimistic and over reassuring and what steps are you taking to ensure that culture is changed?
  5. At page 94 there is a report regarding the performance of Cambridge Education. As part of this contract, school meals were subcontracted to ISS. School meals was a profit centre generating £240,000 of profit before it was outsourced and the business case identified it as a major source of additional income generated outside the borough to support the business case. Why is there no information on the financial performance of the ISS subcontract and will you provide an update of ISS’s current financial and operational performance?
  6. At page 97 it notes that there will be an additional charge for Revs & Bens work from DWP. In 2016/17 Capita charged £330,000 for additional Revs & Bens work plus £98,000 for face to face support. How much is Capita likely to charge in 2017/18?
  7. At page 99 the reports states that there is a rebate from Comensura and administration charges to other services, totalling £1.986m. Please can you clarify how this rebate from Comensura is calculated, and what proportion of the £1.986m it represents?
  8. One of the CSG contract variations identified in Table 12 is for £1,004,038 for dilapidations to NLBP Building 4 “to increase the funds to cover cost until October 2018”. Given that Barnet should have existed NLBP 4 in October 2015 why are we still paying into a dilapidations fund and why are we paying it to Capita, not the building freeholder?
  9. At Page 103 the report states we are paying £78,908.65 to Capita to assist with Family Services recruitment. Given that we paid Capita £248,000 for the same task last financial year are you sure this further payment represents value for money?
  10. At page 106 the report provides details on Re’s financial performance yet there is no mention of how much additional revenue they generated, a key component of the overall financial performance. Please can you tell me how Re are performing against revenue generation targets?
  11. To what extent has the contingency plan recognised that Capita provide services through a range of different service companies (for example pensions administration is operated through Capita Employee Benefits Limited) and that with such a complex operating structure some companies  might continue to trade while others are placed into some form of insolvency measure?
  12. To what extent has the contingency plan recognised issues such as retention of title, where for example if a Barnet contractor has purchased but not fully paid for essential equipment (such as IT hardware) the original supplier may uplift that equipment?
  13. To what extent has the contingency plan recognised that before a  company goes into some form of insolvency measure, it may experience a prolonged period where cashflow is highly restricted, preventing investment in key equipment and failing to replace staff that leave which would have a highly detrimental impact on service standards?
  14. Have you taken specific professional advice from an insolvency practitioner, for example from the external auditor BDO, to ensure the contingency plans are robust?
  15. At the Audit Committee of 31st January 2018 the Chair, Cllr Rayner, said that he was referring the issue of gainshare on the CSG contract back to this committee for a review. There is no mention of this in the forward work programme. When is it scheduled to take place?

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