Capita awarded a £320million contract

I see that Barnet, a council we seemed to be lumped together with in the early days of people realising the scale of the cuts in funding to Local Government were going to be significant, when we along with a few others brave souls talked openly about how we might address these central government funding cuts to protect front line services; have awarded almost their entire back office function to Capita in a 10 year contract to run back office services, worth £320m.

Three years on SCC have a variety of joint and wholly owned companies and mutuals floated out from the County Council, allowing us to protect front line services (not a single library has closed), we are making tens of millions of pounds of savings year on year, at the same time as 1000’s of staff are running their own social businesses right here in Suffolk; and on Thursday at teh Full Council meeting we will be debating our proposal for a third successive Council Tax freeze and lots of other things! I’ll post a blog on the Council meeting here Friday morning, I think it will be worth a read although I suspect there will be a fair amount of press coverage on Friday!

Back in Barnet a petition with the signatures of more than 8,000 residents have called for a referendum against the London borough’s controversial outsourcing plans, which has been organised by the Barnet Alliance for Public Services group; I noticed from the press that some people in Barnet are saying the decision of elected Councillors in undemocratic, love or loath the decision, it is democratic because it was made by democratically elected Councillors, even it 8,000 people oppose it!

At SCC the much maligned joint venture company with BT set up by the previous Liberals and Labour administration – Customer Service Direct, contract is drawing to a close. Whilst it has employed people here in Suffolk and delivered its original services and those additional services we have commissioned like the Adult Social Care hotline – Customer First, it has been constantly attacked by the very people who established it, such is politics. Moving forward the procurement plans have been approved by the cabinet and it will be interesting to see what bids come forward, to my mind the strength of what we are doing here in Suffolk is about our staff forming their own enterprises and delivering Suffolk services to Suffolk residents but it will be interesting to see the process and bids that come in.

On the other hand, we made a real effort to involved our staff and to help them build the capacity to bid, as we embarked on the sale of our 16 Care Homes but it was quickly realised if we wanted to see a significant investment in new homes we could not achieve this is a piecemeal or individual basis and we agreed a £60Million investment in 10 new Care home deal with Care UK, a large national company albeit based in Colchester, but of course they will still only be about 10% of the Suffolk Care Home market with the rest mainly made up of Suffolk independent private providers, so the vast majority are still Suffolk based businesses.

So it’s about making the right choices, balancing cost savings with wider objectives of just what we want to see our future look like, is it a race to the lowest price or the long term of delivery of front line services, making savings and providing meaningful jobs in our community. That’s certainly my aim but there is no doubt as the cost pressures increase this debate will get more intense.

About askcolinnoble
I'm a Conservative politician-lite, I dabble a bit in Party Politics with my main focus of working hard and being a strong voice for my community making sure local government delivers quality services and fellow residents get value for money for their hard earned money they pay in Council tax | Where this Gravatar appears and I am expressing my views or liking something I do so in a personal capacity and does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Suffolk County Council, Forest Heath District Council, the Conservative Party or come to think of it anyone else | But having said the above at an election time and to stay legal anything I write is promoted by Kerry Buist on behalf of Colin Noble, both at West Suffolk Conservative Association, Unit 8, Swan Lane Business Park, Exning, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 7FN

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