The one highlight of the evening was the speech and follow up by Barbara Jacobson. She gave a clear and impassioned speech but the one message we should all take away is her statement that "If this contract is too big and too complex to scrutinise, it is too risky to sign". She is absolutely right of course but whether cabinet members see it that way is another matter.
A few points that did come out last night which I noted were as follows:
- If Barnet want to get out of the contract after two years (for example due to a change in control) it will cost approximately £18 million in compensation and refund of unamortised investment.
- Craig Cooper confirmed that no redundancy is included in the investment (contrary to what it says on page 44 in the report) and no one knows what will be the cost of redundancy.
- If Capita fail to meet Council Tax collection targets they will have to make up the shortfall themselves. (note to debt collection companies, it looks like there will be an upsurge in business in Barnet).
- "The transition to Capita will be seamless", (Craig Cooper)
- Current council staff are excellent (but we are going to make them redundant anyway).
- £750 million = the cost of a 15 year contract as published in the OJEU. £320 million = the cost of the 10 year contract. (not sure of the logic in that statement Mr Travers).
- Barnet have a relatively affluent and educated population and more likely to have internet use and broadband access (so tough sh*t if you are not affluent, not well educated, are part of the 41% of over 65's who are not on line or the 28% of disabled who are not online).
- Capita staff are going to turn up to scrutiny committee meetings and answer questions. (oh yeah!)
- At the end of the contract Barnet will have to take on TUPE liabilities of all of the staff if the contract is brought back in house (but no one knows how much that liability might be).