An internal audit report has given a 'limited assurance' rating to Barnet Council's Capita-run health and safety function for around 800 council owned and managed buildings including the Town Hall, Barnet House, libraries, schools and community centres.
Operational responsibility for health and safety related activities was outsourced to Capita under the ten year Customer and Support Group (CSG) contract just over three years ago, but the Council is still ultimately responsible for health and safety risks to its buildings and retains responsibility for oversight of health and safety compliance.
The audit report found that the monthly reports Capita CSG produce for the Council "do not provide clear and useful data to enable Council management to have oversight and be provided with sufficient assurance over the compliance of the Estate. The ongoing reporting in relation to the compliance status for the non‐civic estate is not sufficient to facilitate effective oversight."
The report also found that 25 per cent of inspections sampled (5/20) were not performed within the correct timeframe. On average these 5 inspections were 2.4 months overdue and there was no specific reason for these timeframes not being met.
Contracts were also not found to be in place for 40 per cent of contractors tested (4/10).
Labour's Audit spokesperson, Cllr Kathy Levine said: "We have been very lucky that there hasn't been a major health and safety incident, for the last three and a half years we didn't really know if our buildings were safe for the public and our employees.
"This audit report must be a wake up call to the Council - they need to take Health and Safety issues more seriously and to get a grip on this critical area, and on the operation of the Capita CSG contract."
1. A copy of the audit report into the Council's health and safety function can be found here (Agenda Item 7 - Appendix 1 and 2):