"I let out contracts myself to various customers and what I learnt in the contract is the word change or variance, because I know they are tied into me for the contract and this where I make all my profit and make up for the low price at the beginning"
And so it is proving true for Capita's contract with Barnet. Buried away on the Council's decisions page is a notice of contract variation which states:
"This contract variation will increase the Contract Charges by £301,508 in Year 1 and £152,072 in Year 2 (Total £453,580) and will be reviewed after 2 years against the revised Contract Baselines in line with the Payment Mechanism set out in Schedule 4 of the Contract".
The variation includes libraries calls, along with children’s service duty rota and fostering calls, although I imagine that the vast majority of these calls are for libraries. The increase charges will fund:
- Year 1 of the contract - additional 7 FTE to be put in place within the service.
- From Year 2 this will reduce to 6.0 FTE
Although this decision was made in May 2014 it was only published on 10 November. This causes me great anxiety that we have to wait 6 months to find out what the council is doing.
More to the point what benefit does provide for the people of Barnet? Having called to ask about book availability I went through to the main Capita call centre. Could they help me with my enquiry - absolutely not. After much faffing around they put me through to East Barnet library who I had wanted to speak to in the first place where my enquiry was dealt with quickly and efficiently - no, the book was not in stock at East Barnet but there was a copy at Chipping Barnet library.
Was my experience a one off - well no actually because according to the Capita call centre performance data for September 2014 only 29.8% of library calls dealt with by the Coventry call centre were resolved. I have always questioned why so many library calls are routed through the Capita call centre in Coventry when actually the people I want to talk to are in the actual library. Now we know that it is costing us £453,000, including a nice mark up on the salary costs. To my mind that is money wasted that could have been used to support our libraries instead of closing them.
When will Barnet Councillors wake up and realise just how wasteful this One Barnet Contract really is and start questioning the underlying principles of outsourcing everything.