A reader has recommended the video: “Who’s spending Britain’s billions?
Jacques Peretti opened this video by reminding us that for some years the 99% have been required to tighten their belts – as the International Tax Review confirms rumours of plans to cut Britain’s corporation tax rate (‘a race to the bottom’). On this film, Peretti uncovered what is happening behind closed doors in Britain. He found that local councils across the UK have signed contracts with management consultancy firms who can take a percentage of any savings they find – luminaries such as McKinsey, Serco, G4S and Capita.
Capita: Service Birmingham
Peretti discussed the outsourcing of council services to Capita, of particular interest to Birmingham residents, with Professor David Bailey (Aston Business School) who has long campaigned against this expensive appointment. In previous posts here and in many Post articles, having analysed cost and performance, he has advised the city to end the contract, as many councils up and down the country are now doing.
Many will welcome the council’s current scrutiny of Capita’s Service Birmingham and hope that – like others cited in the Peretti programme – an in-house workforce will be installed at lower cost to the taxpayer which might well give better service.
Taking self-regulation to a new low
Last year the outspoken Audit Commission – the ‘watchdog’ scrutinising council spending was disbanded. David Cameron hoped a critical mass of citizen watchdogs would become a new force for accountability. He said a ‘whole army of effective armchair auditors looking over the books’ would act as a check on ‘waste’, but the army has not appeared, as the BBC pointed out.
There are 36 articles with Capita in the title on our database
The earliest: in 2004 Schools were forced to close because of delays to a database to vet teachers, run by Capita. In 2005 Capita’s software was said to be responsible for the failure of a government scheme for allocating school places. In 2006: Computer Business Review reported that its chairman had been resigned after the discovery of secret loans to the ruling Labour Party form whom the company had received a number of contracts.
The latest, in August this year a Solihull reader alerted us to a Pulse magazine report on serious shortfalls in Capita’s primary care support services. Medical practices are facing delays as patient records and supplies are missing and payments made late. Alex Matthews-King, who wrote the article, reports on the situation using data published in April 2016 – two years after Capita won the £330m contract to provide primary care support services, with a budget cut of 40%.
Commercial confidentiality hides information about the use of taxpayers’ money
Peretti also reveals that hundreds of the millions of taxpayers’ pounds spent on these contracts are covered by confidential deals meaning very little detail is known about them.
Many readers will not be surprised to hear allegations about consultants who – the blurb says – ’leech off local councils and bleed them dry’. For years they have watched the outsourcing of public services which don’t produce the promised savings – after management fees have been deducted – and ‘evasive councillors’ trying to justify use of these expensive assistants.
His final question? Does the public deserve to know more about how those charged with managing Britain’s billions are spending them?