Capita in Private Eye April 2018
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Birmingham City Council CIO Peter Bishop on bringing IT back in-house. Reposted by Barnet UNISON
The council is winding up a controversial contract with Capita.
Birmingham City Council CIO Peter Bishop was handed a big task when he joined the local authority body in June 2017.
Europe’s largest council was winding up a controversial contract with much-maligned outsourcing giant Capita, and Bishop was put in charge of bringing IT services back in-house.
“My focus has been dominated by the negotiations that are involved with that,” explains Bishop, who serves as the council’s Assistant Director for Information Technology and Digital Services as well as its CIO.
“It’s a £45 million per annum contract. You can’t walk away from that without carefully considering all your options, and we’re not walking away, we’re just setting a very clear stall that we are going to migrate and become the systems and services integrator that Capita are at the moment.
“It means that I’ve got to redesign everything that we do, because [the contract’s] the best part of 12-years-old and your internal capacity and capability needs to be completely rethought to cope with that alone, let alone deliver any of the other stuff.”
Capita is currently responsible for all the procurement, management and support for IT services.
Now the council will take control of all of that, with the aim of simplifying operations and saving money from a deal that’s been derided for its cost.
The changes will be implemented over the course of three years. Year one will focus on preparing and designing the new model, year two on delivering it, and year three on stabilising as the Capita contract finally comes to an end.
Bringing the work done by Capita back under the council’s control will make a major contribution to the £43 million in IT cost base savings that Bishop’s been asked to m
“We’re applying the principles of simplify, standardise and share across everything we do in the IT services,” says Bishop.
“Every set of services that we buy are going to be looked at in terms of can we test the market and different service delivery options, and can we take advantage of technology that comes with those new service models.”
The Capita transition programme is part of a strategy signed off in 2016 that aims to simplify the council’s IT setup and put technology and information at the centre of its operating model
Other components include using data to support council staff and drive better services for citizens, improving information risk management and increasing workforce agility, productivity and collaboration.
The strategy also aims to improve how staff use employee and financial information and implement new service models that harness the power of digital in health and social care.
“There’s a plethora of stuff that’s in there. Things like how we can tackle homelessness through better joining up of data across the council, which is a great use case for our information management strategy.”
Innovation at the council
The council will be rolling out a number of new digital services to its citizens, including a new digital platform for local residents and businesses called the Brum Account.
The Jadu Continuum Platform provides users with 24/7 access to council services such as waste management. They can track requests in real time on the new services as they’re gradually added to the platform.
“It potentially covers anything and everything the council does,” says Bishop. “We’re focusing on the high volume transactions around waste, revenues, housing, repairs, and they’re starting with the high volume stuff because that drives most of the customer contact.
“It really gets people to think about how they deliver customer journeys. It also helps me with one of my other significant programmes of change, which is re-engineering the IT service model.
“For a council of our size, that’s very extensive. We need to reduce the proliferation of assets and data and technology that supports the business, which we can’t afford. The Brum Account is a great example of how you can uncover areas of technology which aren’t really adding any value, like multiple systems that are doing the same thing.”
Bishop takes a best-of-breed of approach to his vendor strategy, so the council can find the right product, reduce any duplications, and move from the private cloud into a hybrid public-private cloud.
He’s also creating an enterprise architecture approach to the solutions the council needs so it can take a strategic advantage of its investments.
“The important bit for me is that innovation needs to drive more value at the back end. We’re doing a European Union funded project around keeping people independent for longer by providing them with wearable devices tracking how much exercise they’re doing and we’re just using a local provider for that.
“If we could integrate that into our adult social care model to effectively prescribe a wearable Fitbit-type device to keep you energised for longer, then that’s the kind of thing we will work on.”
Birmingham’s digital future
Bishop joined the Birmingham City Council in June 2017, after two years as director of commercial and change at Worcestershire County Council.
He’s now swapped a two-tier conservative shire that’s politically stable with a limited political remit for a unitary body that is responsible for all the local government needs of more than one million people.
The city has its challenges, but it’s developing into a major tech hub, with a large and affordable talent pool, local tech networks including Silicon Canal and Innovation Birmingham, good transport links, and 18 universities within an hour’s drive of the city.
It will also be the host of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, which Bishop will use to build digital services and infrastructure that will have a long-term legacy.
“We want more than just a great games,” he says. “We want something that adds value back to the communities that are here. That’s why we’re thinking about how Openreach can put fibre to the premise, how we can deliver 5G in those key corridor areas that support games but don’t then become a permanent arrangement, and extending public Wi-Fi.”
His more immediate objectives include building a team that can deliver his digital strategy, implement some of the big procurement work to support the transition from Capita.
Bishop believes that he’s come to the UK’s second biggest city at just the right time, and that technology will help it have a bright future.
“Birmingham’s got great potential,” he says. “I think it might have lost its way for a bit, but it’s really getting it back together, and part of my role is to really drive that to help all my colleagues across the council and the citizens of Birmingham to get all the value they expect out of the money they give us.”
Over the last year Barnet UNISON have been very concerned about Fire Safety in Barnet Libraries.
This arose because the Council were slow in providing Fires Risk Assessments (FRAs) for Libraries and in complying with the actions resulting from these assessments.
During 2017 Library buildings were altered as part of the Library Program. This included internal structural changes and the installation of technology to permit unstaffed opening hours. These changes meant that the building’s Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs) needed reviewing and replacing.
In addition a new Library, Finchley Church End was opened in September 2017 which also required a Fire Risk Assessment
UNISON began asked the Council for these Fire Risk Assessment prior to library staff returning to each site and before the Libraries opened to the public.
However the Council only produced these FRA weeks and months after library staff and the public were admitted to the Libraries.
1. North Finchley Library reopened to the public on the 12th June 2017
The FRA issued on the 24th August 2017
2. Golders Green Library reopened to the public on the 3rd July 2017 The FRA issued on 10th August 20.17
3. Osidge Library reopened to the public on the 26th June 2017
The FRA issued on the 16th August 2017
The FRAs when they were produced identified a number of actions for the Council to carry out. The majority of these were described as a
The deadline for complying with most of these actions was three months from the issue of the FRA.
A few of the issues are listed below:
Barnet UNISON have been inspecting Libraries to see if the FRA actions have been carried out. In most cases these have not been completed. UNISON have raised this at a number of escalating meetings to the highest level and in our inspection reports.
But no real evidence was presented to Barnet UNISON by the Council that most of the issues had been resolved. Barnet UNISON informed the Council on a number of the occasions that if this continued we would be compelled to contact the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to report our concerns.
Despite this the Council failed to meaningfully respond and with regret Barnet UNISON reported our concerns to the Health and Safety Executive.
The Council have since then provided UNISON with a plan of works to act upon the FRAs but while this is welcome. These action should have been completed months ago.
The Council inaction has in UNISON view being largely caused by various Council/Capita management teams’ failure to take responsibility to have the Fire Risk Assessment in place in good time and to respond in sufficient time to resolve the problems identified in these assessments.
Barnet UNISON do not believe these failures have been due to library staff on site, who have reported these problems according to Council procedures and to their Trade Union , and who have themselves been put at risk by the Council.
Barnet UNISON will continue in our campaign to make Barnet Libraries safe for our members, all Library staff and the public.
To this end we call on the Council to:
Please note: The following services are provided by #Capita:
Jeremy Corbyn on #BarnetCouncil, #Capita and losing control.
It is never dull here in Barnet. In the House of Commons yesterday (21 March 2018), Jeremy Corbyn during Prime Minister Question Time, took the opportunity to comment on Barnet Council and Capita and the recent loss of control of the Council as the result of the deselection of 4 Tory Councillors.
Its amazing how he finds the time to keep up to date with what is going on in Barnet Council.
Last week Barnet UNISON members working in Street Cleansing we called to a meeting and informed of a massive cut to overtime.The news came out of the blue, our members some who have been working for Barnet for decades were both angry and bewildered by this decision.Staff were told there was no longer a budget to cover the service and told that they shouldn’t rely on overtime payments. This did not go down well with the workforce who are the lowest paid in the Council and desperately rely on the overtime payments over the weekend.
This news follows quickly on from the recent 19% cut in the number of staff charged to keep the streets of Barnet clean just before Christmas last year.
In order to explain the cut and its impact on Barnet, Street Cleansing service for Saturday and Sundays which goes from Oakleigh Road depot.
Please note the figures below are for just one side of the borough. The other half of the service goes out from Harrow Depot (we won’t go why we have a depot outside Barnet in this post).
8 hours Finchley Central
8 hours North Finchley
8 Hours East Finchley
4 Hours East & New Barnet
4 hours Friern Barnet/Colney Hatch
4 Hours Whetstone
4 Hours Greenhill/ Mays Lane
8 Hours High Barnet
4 Temple Fortune
8 Golders Green
4 Mill Hill
4 Hendon Central
4 West Hendon
4 Brent Street
8 Hours response team x 2 = 16 hours
This makes that 92 hours for the whole of the borough.
The new service which started last weekend is a one 7.5 ton vehicle with one driver and one loader (16 hours) to cover all the above areas in Barnet.
This is a reduction of 78 hours per day.
Barnet UNISON has unsuccessfully attempted to try to restore the service for Barnet residents. We have sought clarification as to whether normal service will resume from 1 April 2018, we are still waiting. Our members were reporting increases in fly tipping before the workforce was cut, but still the Council implemented the cut. This massive cut to street cleansing at the weekends is going to have a dramatic impact on our borough.
Meanwhile we hear the Council have enough money to pay “eye watering” payments to Capita and seem to have very little control over agency/consultancy spend.
Barnet Supplier Payments – yet another reason why we need to start planning for change
But what do we know.
“On 30th January 2018, Full Council passed a motion on public services and outsourcing, to be considered by the Policy and Resources Committee. Given the timeline of meeting dates, it was agreed that this item be considered at the February meeting of the Performance and Contract Management Committee.
This report provides Members with an outline of the council’s contingency planning arrangements, in the event of the failure of one of its providers of significant outsourced services. The council has a business continuity planning framework, which applies to all services, including outsourced services. In respect of provider failure, the relevant contracts set out the key provisions that would enable the council to ensure continuity of service provision, in particular through the exercise of step in rights.”
Barnet UNISON notes:
“1.7 The indicators include key accounting ratios that measure liquidity and indebtedness. In respect of Capita, the council reviewed its performance against the ratios on two occasions in the last year, as part of the process for considering pre-payment against the CSG and RE contracts. The ratios have been reviewed again, following the publication of its trading statement on 31st January 2018, and Capita have confirmed that they are far from reaching the relevant thresholds.”
Barnet UNISON is calling upon its members, residents to attend the Performance and Contract Management Committee, Tuesday 27th February, 2018 7.00 pm. Hendon Town Hall.
If it is good enough for the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell then its good enough for Barnet UNISON members, we have taken up the challenge and we are mobilising to campaign to bring back service in-house. We were fortunate to have John McDonnell speak at our AGM on 8 February 2018 you can view what he had to say here https://youtu.be/orDpOHNiowI
We passed following motion “Time to Take our Services Back!” below at our AGM.
We have now had confirmation that the motions have been approved for both UNISON Local Government Conference and UNISON National Delegate Conference in June 2018.
We hope our motion presents our union with an ideal opportunity to escalate and lead an organised grassroots campaign to bring outsourced services back in-house across our membership service groups. Let’s deliver “Deeds not words” and help banish all outsourcing from the workplace.
Motion: Time to Take our Services Back!
This union notes:
This union believes:
This union resolves:
Solidarity feel free to share widely
Our key recommendations:
“There is evidence that workers tend to treat the service user in the same way as they themselves are treated by their managers”
Eileen Munro 2011 (Munro Review of Child Protection)
“People are crying at their desks because they cannot cope”
Barnet Family Services social worker 2017
“Managers arrogant and bullying. No respect for workers”
Barnet Family Services social worker 2017
“Managers avoid relationships with social workers and hide behind their emails”
Barnet Family Services social worker 2017
“Because of the time it has taken to establish a more stable core of high quality managers, social workers have, over a year or more, experienced a chain of new managers arriving and introducing new systems without those social workers being involved or trained, with many reporting that they do not understand the changes or why they are being introduced. Those managers then quickly leave, and new managers repeat the cycle.”
Report into Children’s Social Care Services in the London Borough of Barnet, by Frankie Sulke, January 2018
To view full report click on link here UNISON Report on Family Services Survey
Barnet UNISON would like to give thanks to those colleagues who responded to the survey. Most were anxious about repercussions if they responded at all and almost all struggled to complete it fearing for the time they would lose on their caseload and the impact there. This, in itself, is indicative of the pressures facing colleagues in that service. Such is the very high turnover of staff that some whom completed this UNISON survey have already managed to “escape” from Barnet.
What a week it has been.
In August 2013 Barnet Council decided to “get into bed” with Capita, when they signed the contracts, Capita Share price was 959.
Back in 2010 another contractor (Connaught’s) went into liquidation. They provided the Council Housing repair service. Our members were sacked by a telephone conference call.
As a result of that experience, when the Council started “courting” the private sector to run our services, Barnet UNISON warned the Council about the risk of contractor failure.
The response to our feedback was, “don’t worry”, “Capita is a top FTSE 100 company”, hence there is no risk of the contractor failure.
2018 and Carillion.
Earlier this year Carillion collapsed and went into administration.
To the wider public it was a surprise and a shock.
However, as more details emerge about the fall of Carillion, more questions are being asked.
“For those already thinking this sounds a bit like Carillion – you are right. A gaping pension deficit, departing CEO, shrinking cash flow and over-reliance on intangible “goodwill” in it’s accounts – signed off by KPMG.
Capita’s profit warning caps a 24 month slide which saw the UK’s largest outsourcing company tumble out of the FTSE 100 index, its share price losing 80 per cent of its value since January 2016, falling from £11.60 to £2.01 today.
It is not clear whether the above news of the fall of the Capita Share price has ever been noted in the Barnet Council register. Furthermore after listening to the Council debate (Tuesday 30 January 208) on contingency plans in the event of contractor failure it is blatantly clear that none of the councillors had any awareness of the Capita Share price position.
Capita Share Price opened 358.60
On Tuesday 30 January 2018 at the Barnet Full Council meeting the following Opposition (Labour) Motion was submitted in the name of Cllr Barry Rawlings
Public services and outsourcing
Council notes the collapse of the giant outsourcing firm Carillion earlier this month following financial problems, a number of profit warnings, the departure of its Chief Executive and a drastic plunge in its share price. Council notes the uncertainty and concern this causes for thousands of Carillion’s workers, the small businesses in its supply chain, the projects it was contracted to deliver, and the public who use the services it was contracted to provide.
Council notes LB Barnet’s use of mass outsourcing contracts to provide critical back office, regulatory and other services, and therefore requests that the Policy & Resources Committee receives a report on what contingency plans are in place should anything similar happen to outsourced services in Barnet.
You can listen to the debate by going to the web site http://bit.ly/2EycNU5
The following motion was agreed. This is astonishing in itself as it is extremely rare for all political parties to agree on a motion.
The contingency plans for insourcing will be submitted to Performance and Contract Management Committee, Tuesday 27th February, 2018 7.00 pm.
This is a public meeting
“Flying a kite to cause trouble” “nothing to worry about Capita”
This debate took place before anyone was aware that Capita were about to issue a Profit notice.
Capita Share price closed at 347.60
Capita Share Price opened 250.00
Capita plc issue a profit warning:
Capita’s new Chief Executive stated: “Today, Capita is too complex,” he said. “It is driven by a short-term focus and lacks operational discipline and financial flexibility. [It] needs to change its approach. Cost savings and non-core disposals alone will not be enough. We have also taken the significant decision to suspend the dividend and seek equity.”
Capita: more than £1bn wiped off value of UK government contractor
The next Carillion? Shares in outsourcing firm Capita plunged 40% after profit warning.
Outsourcing giant Capita announced the suspension of its dividend as part of a transformation plan this morning – and shares duly plunged by more than 40 per cent.
Contingency plans being made for Barnet’s contracts with Capita
Barnet UNISON writes to Chief Executive seeking details of the contingency plans.
Capita share price closed at 183.05
Capita Share price opened at 178.15
In the debate in the House of Commons today, a Labour MP referred to Barnet Council having a contingency plan.
UK officials met Capita bosses to discuss its financial problems
The company’s value has more than halved since a profit warning earlier this week, falling a further 13% on Thursday. Competitors including Interserve, Mitie and Serco also saw their shares slide.
Oh dear, Capita: MPs put future UK.gov outsourcing in the spotlight
Labour MP Rachel Reeves asked about the serious financial concerns at Capita, after £1bn was wiped off the company’s value following a suspension of dividends and £700m rights issue yesterday. The firm’s shares have now plunged by almost 50 per cent.
Immediately after the announcement, Barnet Council – dubbed “easyCouncil” for its extreme reliance on outsourcing (it has more than half a billion pounds worth of contracts with Capita) – put contingency plans in place to examine how it would handle the fallout should Capita fail.
Capita share price closed at 160.25
Capita Share price opened at 160.35
Carillion collapse leaves Northern Ireland staff ‘facing uncertainty’
“The news that Capita stocks have nosedived places further pressure on the system of outsourcing public services and will require a significant review. We also referred the security of the PIP assessment contract, which currently rests with Capita, to the Auditor General for further inquiries.”
Norfolk councils will monitor contractor Capita after news of group’s woes
Capita contract probed after thousands of clinical letters stuffed in a drawer somewhere
‘Business as usual’ for school support company Entrust – despite Capita profit warning
Capita share price closed at 162.30