Monday 23 April 2018

Barnet Council on the precipice as Capita posts monster losses

This morning, the strategic partner of Barnet Council - Capita (silent "R") posted absolutely enormous losses.  The BBC is reporting that they are doing a cash call of £700 million to prop the business up, after a series of disasterous mistakes. To help pay the bills, the company is also disposing of £300 million worth of businesses. Even more worrying is that Barnet Council has used taxpayers funds to make advance payments to the company, despite it being clear that the company has massive financial difficulties. Respected Barnet commentator, John Dix recently wrote

"While payments to Capita and Re look relatively modest that is because of the large advance payments paid last year which you can see more clearly in the chart below:

Comensura is still receiving large sums of money and while this month that was "only" £1.15 million, to date we have paid Comensura £16 million with one month of the financial year remaining as you can see in the chart below:

As we reported last week, the Barnet Conservatives deselected Councillor Sury Khatri for the forthcoming elections as he was keen to call time on this financial mismanagement. Watch what Councillor Khatri said here

The Barnet Conservative party have tried to sweep this under the carpet, with candidates and councillors posting a series of ever more personal and childish tweets about Councillor Khatri.

As the Hale Candidate Mr Jajeh seems to be under the illusiuon that Sury Khatri has been happy with the Tory administration, let me remind him of his discontent about Capita back in September 2013. These are the words of Former local Tory Bigwig Brian Coleman.
"Councillor Sury Khatri (Mill Hill Ward) Elected in 2010 when 16 years of Liberal dominance in Mill Hill ended. Heavy smoker who dislikes virtually every aspect of Conservative Group policy . Made a speech once in the Conservative Group in which he attacked privatisation , parking policy , One Barnet , Library closures , cuts etc and which colleagues thought was a resignation  speech but still he hangs on . Quite happy to tell anyone who asks that "One Barnet" is crazy (as he did at the Audit Committee a couple of months ago ) . Many Tory Councillors think he is barking and wonder if he will sign up to the 2014 Manifesto . Will cause problems if the Tory Administration is reelected next year with a slim majority. The Tory Councillor most likely to defect to Labour . "
As you can see, since September 2013, Cllr Khatri, as deputy chair of the Audit committee has been sceptical about the One Barnet/Capita project. I have spoken to Sury on many occasions privately about One Barnet. He has always said that he felt it was his civic duty to act as a critic in his role in the Audit committee. On Saturday, he confirmed my suspicions that as the Deputy Leader of Barnet Council, Dan Thomas, sees the One Barnet/Capita project as his own, he was determined to silence Sury Khatri.

Normally internal squabbles in the local Conservative Party have little bearing on the public. However the potential collapse of Capita is a totally different matter. They are involved in almost every aspect of the council. Back in January the Barnet Eye sent a Freedom of Information request to Barnet Council asking about contingency plans for a Capita failure. This followed the collapse of Carillion. As we detailed last week, no such plans existed, beyond a few clauses in the contract with Capita, which by definition would have collapsed if a contingency plan was needed.

The biggest threat to Barnet is that the expertise has been lost to the Borough. For Barnet to extract itself from a collapse of Capita would be like the proverbial attempts to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

As a  long term Barnet resident, I cannot believe that what used to be a well run council has got itself into such a mess. This is what happens when we let political ideology rule over common sense.

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