Archives for posts with tag: Capita

A Handsworth resident responds: service birmingham

David Bailey’s reference to Capita is spot on. We’re experiencing problems at the moment just getting a simple link to an online ticket facility for a city event! It is little short of outrageous that we are paying more than 100% over the original budget which, as David Bailey rightly says, was too high in the first place.

Council newspaper

Back in the mid 1980s I was involved in producing a new publication for the council for distribution across what was then 12 constituency areas in 12 editions. The timescale was so short the council’s own agencies refused to touch it. A team of LOCAL writers, photographers, designers, printers AND distributors was put together and completed the job with a higher than 97% audited city wide distribution.

Shortly afterwards the council launched its own tabloid paper. This successful team’s bid was turned down in favour of Capita Penn who proceeded to create an expensive shambles. Their audited distribution barely hit 70% and eventually the contract was taken in-house and transferred to the Post and Mail (Ed: this might refer to its free e-newsletters, launched in 2008, which had daily news bulletins, weekly sector-specific updates including finance, law, technology & innovation and commercial property.)

City website

People may remember that a couple of years back a group of students produced a more effective web site than the city’s own (massively expensive) version – all for free! That lesson simply has not been learnt. We have competent local companies capable of doing a better job than Capita at a fraction of the cost. (Ed: perhaps referring to the Young People’s Focus Group’s “experiment in an alternative way to design and build a city council website for Birmingham. Development has now moved to DIY Council”.)

Both central and local government make the same mistakes repeatedly, favouring large companies rather than efficient local ones. A similar tale can be told in regard to computer systems in schools. The majority of authorities have ‘played safe’ by going for a well known but costly large company known for its lack of innovation and creativity. The result is that many school IT systems (and also some in FE colleges) have lagged behind the technological advances with which many small companies are very familiar.

I’m happy to take any queries directly.

Read about Capita/Service Birmingham on its website.

 

 

Advertisements

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.

Capita-Service Birmingham hit the headlines last year over proposals to offshore skilled IT jobs to India, which were later abandoned at a cost of £12 million to the taxpayer – or so we thought.

Information received, indicating that Capita was outsourcing ‘by the back door’, caused Adrian Goldberg to seek clarification on his WM Radio programme today.

He had been told that when employees left for some reason, or took voluntary redundancy, their work was passed on to someone in India on the SAT (satellite?) system.

Cllr. Mohammed Afzal, chairman of the Employment Matters Committee, was interviewed and said that these allegations must be investigated.

*

An earlier post on this site asked why Capita is still apparently regarded as ‘competitive’ despite country-wide losses and service failures dating back at least to 2006.

Beyond the confines of acceptable lobbying, its chairman resigned because of publicity surrounding his loan to the Labour Party and last year the Birmingham Post gave details of considerable hospitality offered by Capita to the council’s chief executive Stephen Hughes.

Capita-Service Birmingham was given the IT and call centre contract at Birmingham City Council because it offered efficient service and promised huge cost savings – see their website.

However, 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.

This subject will be followed up on West Midlands Radio : 9am -12 Monday to Saturday.

*