Barnet Council outsourcing plan faces prospect of judicial review

Resident Maria Nash challenges Barnet Council’s plan to outsource services – One Barnet – which could now face a judicial review

Barnet Council’s plan to outsource services has been delayed and could face a judicial review after 67-year old disabled resident Maria Nash bought a case against the "One Barnet" programme.

On March 19 2013 a senior judge will receive an application from Maria Nash’s legal representatives, who argue the council did not properly consult citizens.

Gerald Shamash – partner at legal firm Steel & Shamash, which is representing Nash – said the High Court will hear evidence and decide if a judicial review is required. 

Shamash said that, if a review is granted: “They may say ‘we give permission for a review and we think you are right' or they may give permission and say they don’t agree.”

As part of the One Barnet programme, services including HR, payroll and IT will transfer to Capita in a £320m contract. In total One Barnet will see the council spend £1bn on a variety of outsourcing services.

In December the Conservative-run council’s cabinet approved the multi-million outsourcing deal with Capita, which the council claims will save over £100m in ten years.

Under the deal, some council workers transfer to Capita and others will be made redundant.

In November 2012, Alison Moore – leader of the Labour opposition at Barnet Council who is opposed to the deal – said in a statement: "This is a huge contract and we will only know if this risky gamble pays off after the council signs a contract for at least 10 years, which effectively means that services will be tied-in for the next two or even three electoral cycles. 

"Councillors of all political parties will be rightly concerned about how they will be able to continue to represent their constituents and ensure that services are efficiently and effectively delivered for all residents.

"There is no guarantee that this contract will make savings or deliver better services, and we know there are other places where this has gone disastrously wrong and where councils have had to bring those services back in house at great cost to the council tax payer.

"The loss of 200 jobs from the borough is yet another blow to the local economy which we know is already struggling, as well as a personal tragedy for those staff affected who may lose their jobs.

"The business case has not been properly made and there has been very little scrutiny allowed of the business plan - If this contract does not deliver it could end up causing real misery for local people."

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