Thursday 22 September 2022

What we are paying Capita

 Even though large parts of the Capita contract will finish next year, they continue to bill Barnet for their charges. The running total is now £607.7 million, £246.8 million more than the contracted sum.

As readers will know, I also review every single invoice Capita have submitted during the Inspection of Accounts period which give residents the right to inspect bills, invoices and payments. This year it was 381 invoices for a total sum of just under £50 million.

Within that figure there are some interesting numbers. £4.49 million was for 'indexation' of their fees. I have raised this with the council on numerous occasions saying that no other council service is guaranteed to get RPI increases every year so why do Capita? This will be a major issue over this financial year when RPI in August was 14.2% (significantly higher than the more accepted CPI rate).

£805,261 was paid to Capita for 'E Test & Trace' work. I just hope we are able to recover that from central government. We were billed £979,727 for the 'Network Recovery Programme' for which read road repairs. Now my understanding is that this figure is not for things like tarmac and pneumatic drills but simply staff to manage the programme.

Brent Cross is a major project to which Barnet has already made a massive investment including £77 million last year alone. The project management of the new Brent Cross Thameslink station was taken away from Capita and given to Mace but Capita still managed to bill £815,880 in fees.

There remains the infamous gainshare clause whereby Capita get to keep a proportion of any savings they make. It was phased out on procurement after many years of me complaining that it was a flawed system (you can read some of the old examples here) but it is still in operation of some other areas. This year we paid £300,015 gainshare on Council Tax and Housing benefit overpayment recovery. Given that Capita administer both these services one would have hoped they got it right first time. A further £221,160 gainshare was paid for reducing council tax single person discounts.

Capita also set thresholds for the number of council tax and benefits enquires they deal with. If the number is exceeded, we get billed an additional charge known as a volumetric charge. This year that amounted to £122,075, less than in previous years but still a lot of money.

In special projects, £2,749,758.83 was paid to Capita on various elements of the Hendon Hub project, one which has drawn very significant opposition and legal challenges. They also billed £1.66m for various IT projects.

In today's Barnet Times (22 September 2022) we see yet another example of poor performance in the Capita contract and that the representative from Capita refused to attend the Audit Committee to answer any questions. While a decision has been made to end the Capita contract, some elements will be continuing for another 42 months. The need to monitor and challenge the performance and cost of the Capita contract continues until the very last day.