Capita computer cock-up blamed for Barnet Council's delayed accounts

Barnet Council's accounts for 2016/17 have been delayed for months due to a change in computer systems which meant the Capita data systems did not match up with the audit format, councillors learned at an extraordinary meeting of the Audit Committee this week (19 Sep).

In the meeting, specially convened in order to scrutinise the final accounts for 2016/17, the problem was compared to the two systems speaking different languages. The accounts should have been finalised and signed-off before the summer.

The meeting also discussed a litany of errors and issues in the accounts highlighted by the auditors, including:

- material misstatements resulting in a reduction in Council net assets and reserves by £82.348 million, and of the Barnet Group by £89.295 million
- failure to collect £925,711 for energy costs from Comer Homes, who own the North London Business Park site that the Council is currently based at. The auditors' report says that "We have seen correspondence in 2015 suggesting this will be repaid at £50,000 per month but we have not seen any recovery to date. The case has been passed to HB Public Law".
- failure to invoice Re Ltd (Joint Venture company with Capita) for contract performance penalties totalling £4.6 million.

Capita run both finance and IT services for Barnet Council.

East Finchley Councillor and Audit Committee member, Arjun Mittra said:

"When we scrutinised the appointment of Capita we were told they were the best in the world in offering these types of IT systems, that they have clients all over the world and are experts. It turns out that's complete baloney and really they are quite rubbish."

On the failure to recoup money from Comer and Re Ltd, Woodhouse Councillor, Alan Schneiderman said:

"It is astonishing that this has gone on for two years. That is a lot of money that could be put to good use. I don't know why it seems so difficult to recoup the money. If the Council were as tough with Comer Homes and Capita as they are with residents when collecting Council Tax we would have the money back in no time. Why are they always weak to the strong but strong to the weak?"

Ends.
Notes:

 

  1. A copy of the Audit Committee agenda and reports can be found here: http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=144&MId=9401&Ver=4
For more information contact Cllr Arjun Mittra: cllr.a.mittra@barnet.gov.uk
To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568
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