The Conservative Chair of Barnet Council’s Financial Performance and Contracts Committee, Cllr Peter Zinkin, told the committee last night (11 March) that in relation to the Capita CSG contract “The bit that worked well was cutting costs, the bit that didn’t work so well were the services.”
Cllr Zinkin also said of Capita that it had “days or weeks” to resolve longstanding problems with the Capita-run pensions administration service for council employees.
According to officers at the meeting, the pensions regulator is getting “fed up” and demands “action, not words” after it was revealed two years ago that the quality of data on the system is inadequate and does not conform to regulation standards.
However, In response to a demand by Labour Councillor and committee member, Arjun Mittra, that the Council should consider bringing the service back in-house, Cllr Zinkin said that that was not likely, and that he would prefer the service to continue to be privatised, but to a different contractor.
Labour councillors got agreement at a recent Policy & Resources Committee that bringing the pensions administration service back in house would be considered in the review of the next tranche of Capita services.
Labour’s spokesperson on the committee, Cllr Kathy Levine said:
“The continual failure of the Capita pensions administration service is a national embarrassment. Barnet was the first local authority to be fined by the regulator for failure to submit their 2016 scheme on time, and there has been a further breach since then. The contracts are 6 years in and only now are the Barnet Tories trying to deal with this crisis – but not by doing the obvious thing – bringing it back in-house!”
Labour Group Leader, Cllr Barry Rawlings added:
“The cat is out of the bag with Cllr Zinkin’s comments – they know how bad Capita’s services are, yet they won’t admit to being wrong about their privatisation obsession. The pensions administration service is a mess, IT services are not good enough and there is wide dissatisfaction with their performance. Cllr Zinkin is right that Capita services “don’t work so well”, but he is wrong about the other thing – we have yet to be shown convincing evidence that substantial savings have been made.”