Capita poised to take slice of Barnet Council £1bn outsourcing contract

Capita has been named as a preferred bidder for a back-office services contract in Barnet’s controversial One Barnet outsourcing plan

Capita looks set to win part of Barnet’s controversial One Barnet outsourcing plan, after it is revealed to be the preferred bidder for a back-office services contract.

The contract, worth £32m a year, will see IT and back-office functions such as human resources (HR) and payroll move to Capita for a 10-year period. Hundreds of staff will transfer to Capita.

Details of the contract will go to a council committee on 29 November to be further scrutinised.

Labour leader councillor Alison Moore, who opposes the programme, said the contract includes savings and performance promises that need to be checked out, and these would be looked at closely. 

“We will be challenging and scrutinising it as closely as we can. This is a 10-year contract, and if it fails it will be the citizens of Barnet that have to pay,” she said.

“We are also concerned about the large number of jobs planned to move to the supplier,” she added.

Councillors opposed to the outsourcing plans said the One Barnet programme, now in its third year, had so far not made any net savings, but incurred a net cost of at least £663,000.

A motion, which included a confidence vote on the council's leadership, was brought by councillors unhappy with a £1bn outsourcing programme.

The council agenda for the meeting in which the confidence vote was held said many councillors believed the Conservative administration had “completely lost its way over the One Barnet Programme".

It said: “The council believes the process to outsource 70% of council services in two large contracts under One Barnet has been dogged by a lack of transparency. 

"Scrutiny of One Barnet by elected councillors has been severely compromised by the administration scrapping the dedicated One Barnet Scrutiny Panel and by preventing administration and opposition councillors outside the Cabinet from having sufficient time to scrutinise detailed financial information…"

The council's leader, Conservative Richard Cornelius, survived the confidence vote with the support of 32 councillors, while 24 voted against him. Three councillors did not vote and four were absent.

Councillors in Barnet said they will continue to scrutinise the £1bn outsourcing programme, despite the council leader surviving a confidence vote over the issue.

Cornwall Council’s former leader Alec Robertson, who was at the centre of a controversial outsourcing plan himself, was not so lucky. He lost a confidence vote 63 to 49 over the issue. That plan is now on ice pending further review.

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