Before doubts about Capita’s renunciation of outsourcing were aired here, on May 10th the Post reported that Birmingham City Council’s £1 billion contract with Capita-Service Birmingham is to be closely scrutinised after senior Labour councillors voiced doubts about whether good services and value for money are being delivered. An independent assessment is to be made of this contract – which runs until 2020 – and of Service Birmingham’s performance. 

More information from hoarded files

In March the the city’s accounts were resubmitted at a cost of £300,000 and in an article detailing serious accountancy errors, Cllr Barry Henley was quoted in the Post as saying: “I believe that the council is concealing revenue spending as capital as a way of hiding the disastrous costs of Service Birmingham and our involvement with Capita.”

After Capita Consulting formed the joint venture ‘Service Birmingham’  with Birmingham City Council in 2006, it caused a backlog two years later in the payment of nearly 30,000 invoices at Birmingham City Council.

But the joint venture continues despite the consultancy’s record – its less than perfect performance and policies.

Capita projects have had problems all over the country – not only in this city – but most prospective employers seem undismayed:

  • The group lost its contract to administer housing benefits in Lambeth
  • Schools were forced to close because of delays to a database run by Capita to vet teachers. The government’s Department for Education and Skills scrapped the individual learning accounts scheme run by Capita, following allegations of fraud.
  • Its £400m project for the Criminal Records Bureau suffered early setbacks, with the company failing to meet specific targets.
  • Its founder Rod Aldridge was forced to quit Capita amid allegations his relationship with government was too close, after he lent £1m to the Labour party ahead of the general election.
  • It experienced problems as primary vendor for Transport for London’s congestion-charging scheme, with systems initially misreading as many as four vehicle registration plates in ten. It lost its contract in 2007.

We can only hope for the best and check our smoke alarms on reading the news that the London fire brigade is to outsource its control centre to Capita . . . the FT reports that the London deal is expected to be followed by other brigades nationwide.

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