Since the mass outsourcing started Barnet Council Agency/Consultancy spend has been accelerating out of control from £7,732, 269 in 2012 to a scary £17,907, 052 in 2016.
In the last quarter they have spent £6.9 million, if they carry on there is a high risk that the Council could go over £20 million on agency/consultancy spend.
Just to give a flavour of where the money is being spent, Commissioning service headcount is 170 and their agency spend Quarter 1 16/17 is £1,013,000 compared with Family Services headcount is 638 and their agency spend Quarter 1 16/17 is £1, 782,000.
The other day at the Environment Committee a couple of residents begged the committee to save a partially sighted/blind bowling club from closure over what was a pitiful amount of money. We truly have a Tale of Two Barnets. One set of rules for the multi millionaire consultantcies, another rule for those of us who need a partially sighted bowling club to bring a little joy into their lives.
The details of the council spending is detailed here - http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s34246/Q1%20PCM%20report%20FINAL.pdf
In the pre Capita days, Barnet Council had a plausible argument that council staff were leaving and it was difficult to recruit with staff likely to be made redundant once Capita took over. Now we have had Capita in place for three years, a steady state should have been reached. In some meetings when challenged, they have been shroud waving saying it is all because they can’t recruit social workers but by analysing the detailed Comensura figures which they publish separately, not within the monthly expenditure, it proves that the problem is much more widespread and that is confirmed in the latest DPR. The total agency and interim spend since 2010 to July 2016 is £83.4 million.
Anyone who has ever run a business or worked in a management position (or even on the shop floor) knows that short term agency staff can never replace qualified and experienced staff. Such staff should only be used to plug short term problems or if there are specific projects, where there will be no jobs at the end of the project. Agency staff are more expensive and generally have less experience than full time employees. I would be interested to know just how many of these consultants were formerly Barnet Council staff, who were given large, tax payer funded redundancy packages, only to be re-employed at inflated contract rates soon after. We all have a vested interest in this because we pay the bills.
(Many thanks to John Burgess, Derek Dishman and John Dix for input & figures supplied in this blog).