Tuesday 2 August 2022

Capita - they may be going but costs continue to grow

 I have been tied up for the last couple of months with the planning inquiry on the proposed redevelopment of the former gasworks in New Barnet. I will be producing a detailed blog once we have a decision from the planning inspector but in the meantime I though I had better refocus back on to Capita.

I was delighted that Barnet's new councillors have decided the Capita contract will end before the next election. The Re contract will end when the contract expires this time next year with a few of the remaining services such as IT and customer services being delayed while alternative arrangements can be put in place. However, that doesn't mean that I will stop monitoring the costs and in June there were some large bills, especially on the Re contract. set out below is the latest update 

Later on this month I will be inspecting all the Capita contract invoices as part of the Inspection of Accounts process for the year 2021/22. I want to check what the £49.95 million was actually spent on, especially the £13.95 million that was in excess of the contracted value. So far we have paid Capita £604 million and that deserves scrutiny.

One other area where spending seems to be running high is the agency cost budget. Agency costs peaked in 2016/17 at £19.87 million. After many challenges from me, especially to the Comensura contract who managed all of the agency spend, we saw the agency bill decline significantly until Covid struck when, not surprisingly, the agency spend increased. I was expecting the agency spend to drop back down to where it was in 2019/20 but the first three months of this financial year suggests that on the current burn rate, it may hit the 2016/17 peak of £20 million.

A couple of other large bills this month include the on-going cost of Brent Cross Thameslink station where this month we paid £3.6 million to Network Rail Infrastructure and £2.15m to Volker Fitzpatrick which were part of the total £6.4 million spent on Brent Cross.

We also paid £515,383 to PA Consulting in June with the cost allocated to the Adults & Health department. I suspect this relates to the on-going issue of the Mosaic casework system which was originally planned to be implemented by Capita but was taken away from them when the project failed to deliver. If I am wrong I am always happy for someone at Barnet Council to tell me what it was spent on.

As always, I will keep monitoring the spending.