I’ve been off a few days so haven’t written about the news about Service Birmingham. The Birmingham Mail published an interesting article last week about how there is currently a review.
Service Birmingham is a joint venture between Birmingham City Council and Capita. It covers HR and IT services.
Apparently councillors have little idea about how much the arrangement is costing.
According to the BirminghamMail, Councillor John Clancy that Birmingham City Council members were being “deterred from getting a grip” on the nuts and bolts of the “complex” deal because the facts were unclear.
“Nowhere is there a clear, total figure for what we are paying and what we should be paying,” he is reported to have said.
“The biggest issue is transparency; we have little idea of what is going on.”
So the political representatives of the people paying for the contract struggle to understand the costs. I can sympathize as I imagine only a lawyer or expert in this type of relationship would be able to easily get a grip of the costs.
I remember when I started writing about the government’s plans for mutual, where public sector services would be owned by the staff, the government and a third party supplier. Now that is a complicated. Mutuals have been described as a kind of joint venture, where another party puts money in for investment and the body is run by the previous public sector staff who worked for the organisation.
If you bring a private business into the public sector services equation transparency is paramount. Remember the trouble at Cornwall Council. The trouble really kicked off when the council’s cabinet tried to push the deal through without the consent of the full council never mind the public.