Other Capita-run services return to Barnet Council control

Councilors have voted to bring five Capita-run services back under Barnet Council control after a heated argument over the value of outsourcing.

The Conservatives approved the latest round of insourcing during a full council meeting on January 25, but the Labor opposition slammed the deals and called for more Capita-run services to be brought back indoors.

Barnet Council handed over a range of services to Capita, an international business process outsourcing and professional services company, in 2013 to save money.

It has since brought back four and transferred administration of its pension scheme to the West Yorkshire Pension Fund.

The latest move, approved as part of a decade-long review of Capita contracts, would see highways, recruitment, regeneration, procurement and government services returned under City Hall control.

Capita will retain control of six Barnet services: IT, Customer Service, Revenue and Benefits, Mortgage, Facility Control, and Planning and Development Control. Four other services will remain with Capita for a year or two pending further contract review.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Council leader Dan Thomas claimed doing business with Capita was “significantly cheaper” than managing the services in-house and had saved the council £165million over the last decade.

He added: “Value for money will continue to be a factor when we decide on the future of services to be determined.”

But Labor group leader Barry Rawlings warned the treaties lacked democratic oversight and scrutiny, and urged the council to bring in other key services such as planning and development.

Cllr Rawlings said: “These [services] Be accountable through their elected representatives to local communities and not to distant pension funds and private investors. We have to live with the consequences of these decisions, Capita shareholders don’t.”

Tory Councilor Peter Zinkin hit back, claiming Conservatives are “looking forward to the future and working to get the best possible contract for the delivery of services”. Labour, he claimed, is “looking backwards” and “locked in ideology and hatred of the private sector”.

David Longstaff, the council’s vice-chairman, said one of the main concerns for residents is the level of council tax and that the town hall has outsourced services to save money. He claimed the contracts “worked extremely well,” adding, “Residents don’t care where the work gets done as long as it gets done.”

But Labor councilors continued to criticize the deals. Cllr Kathy Levine said she doesn’t understand why the “highly profitable area” of planning isn’t being brought back in-house.

She added: “Where’s the value for money? I can see what’s in it for Capita, but I can’t see what’s in it for the residents of Barnet.”

Cllr Levine’s Labor colleague Arjun Mittra listed a number of flaws in the deals including the £2million fraud against the council by former Capita contractor Trishul Shah.

He said, “The reality is that this Capita contract has brought Barnet nothing but shame, humiliation and scandal.”

At the end of the debate, the Conservative councilors voted to incorporate the five services. Union councils and Liberal Democrat Jess Brayne voted against.

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