Council contract on track to deliver nearly £40million of financial benefits

Author: Brendan Steinhardt


A year-four review of Barnet Council’s joint venture with Capita: Regional Enterprise Ltd (Re) has confirmed that the partnership is on course to deliver nearly £40million of financial benefit to the taxpayer over its 10-year term, through savings and income.

Hendon Town Hall

Hendon Town Hall

The Re contract delivers a wide range of services including highways, planning, regeneration, environmental health, trading standards and the Hendon Cemetery and Crematorium.

The financial benefit over the 10-year contract term means that the cost of services to the taxpayer has been reduced from £45million to £6million. This means that these services now cost £600,000 annually, rather than £4.5million each year, before the contract was signed.

A cross-party working group of councillors has overseen a year-four review of the council’s contract with Re Ltd. The review looked at ways of improving service delivery and residents’ experience of using the services. The aim of the review was to also identify approaches to income generation and opportunities for savings in response to the changing needs of the council and the borough.

The key findings from the review were agreed by the group in October and presented at last night’s Performance and Contract Management Committee.  The review highlighted how the core contract is delivering against its objectives and is on track to deliver a £39.1million financial benefit to taxpayers over the 10-year term of the contract. £13million has already been achieved since the contract started in 2013, while there has been an additional investment of £8.2m in new technology, improving facilities and training staff.

Where data was available, it was established that performance for Barnet is good in comparison to other London boroughs. It also confirmed that services are low-cost compared to other London boroughs and that the contract is providing good value for money. The review also found that services are generally of reasonable to good quality for local residents.

Some of the other key benefits for local residents included:
  • There is now a dedicated customer services team with 17 staff in place to triage calls; performance is consistently above 90 per cent for answering calls and there has been a 20 per cent increase in volume since the start of the contract
  • Re hold regular charity events and are currently supporting a local hospice, recently donating over £2,000
  • The Community Crowdfunding launched by the council in July allows residents and local businesses to apply for up to £5,000 in funding to bring their ideas to life. Re has been instrumental in developing the project through delivering Section 106 employment opportunities, as well as skills training and town centre activities
  • By the end of the  2017/18 financial  year, the highways service will have overseen 1 million m2 of planned carriageway works (378 schemes) alongside a further 280,000 m2 of planned pavement works (183 schemes), over the last three years
  • Planning enforcement – in the first nine months of 2017, 117 new enforcement notices were authorised, compared to 63 in the same period of 2016
  • The regeneration team is overseeing the delivery of major regeneration schemes across the borough that will deliver up to 27,000 new and replacement homes, and 30,000 jobs
  • Barnet has invested in a proactive programme to repair roads in the borough. The programme is currently operating at an average of 50m2 per day and has completed 585 patches across 95 roads totalling 6,797 m2.
  • Re’s planning team was a finalist for LGC’s Team of the Year award
The review highlighted service areas that need further improvement, particularly in highways and planning enforcement. These have been addressed as part of the review, and will be closely monitored to ensure that improvement is made.

The Leader of Barnet Council, Councillor Richard Cornelius, said: “We welcome this latest cross-party review of the contract we have in place with Re. The most important thing is that services are of a good quality and that the joint venture is providing value for money to our residents.

“It is particularly pleasing to see that the contract is on course to achieve a financial benefit of £39million for taxpayers over the 10-year term. In simple terms, this means we now have a planning service we are paying nothing for. In the past, it was costing us £4million a year.

“In a contract of this nature, it is vitally important that we are transparent and open about how the contract is performing, and that we address any issues as they arise. While the review clearly highlights the financial benefit the contract is delivering, it also points to some areas that need to be improved. We will be working with Re to ensure these improvements are made in a timely fashion.”