Tories refuse to review Capita contract in public

Barnet’s Tory councillors voted against holding meetings to review the Capita contract for Customer & Support Group (CSG) in public at last week’s Performance & Contract Management Committee (PCM).

The 10 year Capita CSG contract worth £320 million that runs the council’s customer care services and back office functions like finance, HR, IT, estates, council tax collection and benefits service, is up for its first review point this year – 3 years into the contract. Councillors on the Performance & Contract Management Committee discussed a report setting out the process for the review which will be undertaken by a small group of councillors from the committee appointed to a working group.

Labour councillors on the committee moved a motion calling for the working group meetings to be held in public, but the Tories rejected the proposal on the basis that some of their councillors didn’t feel they would be able to say what they really thought in a public setting.

Labour councillors on the committee have been raising concerns of poor performance by Capita on various issues including IT performance issues which they raised at last week’s committee.

Following several computer system failures and months of questioning on whether Capita is complying with its contractual obligations on IT best practice, Barnet Council has now brought forward an audit to early this year – two and a half years after Capita took over all the Council’s IT.

In addition, Capita was allowed to put back the contractual latest date for implementing best practice by 11 months without the chair of the Contract Management committee being aware.

Labour's Performance & Contract Management Spokesperson, Cllr Geof Cooke said “The review of this Capita contract should be transparent and held in public – hundreds of millions of pounds of public money is being spent on this contract and the council tax paying public deserve to know what councillors really think of the contract and how it is operating.

“I cannot think of a serious reason why the working group reviewing the contract should not meet in public, other than that it would reveal what the Tories really think of Capita.”

“The IT audit is welcome news but long overdue. There have been many incidents – for instance in April last year there were 3 major failures causing rent not being collected and income transactions not being recorded properly and in the previous December a major system was unavailable for several days. The committee chair Cllr Finn needs to get a grip over contract variations and ensure that the main ones are reported for consideration by the committee.”

Ends.

Notes: 

1. For details of the review of the Capita CSG contract see Agenda Item 10: http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=693&MId=8407&Ver=4 

For more information contact:

Cllr Geof Cooke: cllr.g.cooke@barnet.gov.uk

To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568

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