Capita and Barnet deal to be completed after campaigner’s court appeal fails

Outsourcing contracts worth over £470m will be signed off by Barnet Council after a Court of Appeal ruled that the deal was lawful

Outsourcing contracts worth over £470m will be signed off by Barnet Council following a Court of Appeal ruled that a deal between the council and Capita was lawful.

Disability rights campaigned Maria Nash originally brought a case against Barnet Council, calling for a judicial review of the outsourcing programme. Her case alleged that Barnet Council did not properly consult citizens on the outsourcing plan.

But a high court judge ruled that the objection to Barnet Council’s £320m outsourcing contract with Capita came too late. Nash's appeal has now been rejected after the second-most senior judge in England and Wales, John Anthony Dyson agreed that the original objection came too late.

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. The council has since agreed a £154m development and regulatory services contract with Capita Symonds.

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The Barnet Alliance for Public Services said Maria Nash’s legal team has applied for permission to approach the Supreme Court to continue the fight.

“Once again, the issue turned on the technicality of when the challenge was brought. On the substantive issue, Barnet Council is still guilty, as stated in Justice Underhill’s earlier ruling, of failing, to fulfil its duty under s.3(2) of the 1999 Act," it said.

“This judgment deals a blow to democracy, giving a green light to politicians who choose to pursue their own agenda with no mandate from the people as long as they can hide or mislead the public about their true actions for a mere three months – the time in which a legal challenge to a decision has to be brought. Barnet residents will pay the price for the outsourcing they never voted for.

“They will learn that the ‘savings of £126 million over 10 years’ are not guaranteed."

The One Barnet programme has been controversial. In November, Conservative Richard Cornelius survived a confidence vote over the issue.

In January 2013, councillor Alison Moore, leader of Barnet Council's Labour opposition, said residents were outraged at the lack of consultation on the One Barnet outsourcing project. 

“Moving to a council that commissions most of its services from someone else is a fundamental change in the way local services are provided, and it will have an affect on local people, including the most vulnerable in our community," said Moore.



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