Auditors slam Barnet's Capita-run pensions service with 'limited assurance' rating

A Barnet Council internal audit report discussed at last night's Audit Committee (31 Jan) has exposed serious failures in Capita’s management of pensions administration for Barnet Council. Two high-risk failures were identified- with data quality and the preparation of the annual benefit statement.

The report also found problems with retirement benefit calculations, a lack of a communications strategy, incomplete new member records, delays in transfers out of the fund, a lack of any policy on breaches of the law, and problems with the governance of the scheme, which would have made it hard for the council to identify if laws had been breached in the first place.

Barnet Council, as administering authority, is currently subject to scrutiny by The Pensions Regulator after failing to submit its 2016 annual pensions return. The Pension Regulator fined Barnet Council £1,000 for the failure – the first such fine to a public service pension scheme.

Labour Audit member & Pensions spokesperson, Cllr Arjun Mittra said:

“Capita are doing a disastrous job managing the council’s pensions administration. This report is shocking when you remember how the Capita contract was sold to the public as getting the best in the business in to run services, and they were expert administrators. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are so poor that they wouldn’t know if a breach of the law had taken place, and even if they did, they didn't have a policy to deal with it until last October, 4 years into the contract!”

Labour’s Audit spokesperson, Cllr Kathy Levine said:
“The whole Capita contract is falling apart. We are not a priority for them, so they don’t allocate enough resources or staff time to managing Barnet services. If you read all these audit reports, it’s clear that there is always an absence of a plan for how to go forward and deadlines keep being missed. The Conservatives who run the council bury their heads in the sand and do not want to know. "

Ends.

Notes:

1. A copy of the Audit report on Capita can be found here:

http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s44686/Appx%201%20-%20LBB%20IA%20Progress%20report%20Q3%202017%2018%20final%20for%20Audit%20Committee.pdf

2. The full Audit committee agenda can be found here:

http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=144&MId=9176&Ver=4

3. For details of The Pension Regulator fine:

http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/press/tpr-issues-first-fine-to-a-public-service-pension-scheme.aspx

For more information contact:
cllr.k.levine@barnet.gov.uk
cllr.a.mittra@barnet.gov.uk
To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568

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