Service Birmingham savings announced

A package of measures are expected to provide improved customer services and savings in excess of £150m over a seven-year period, enabling the council to deliver the ICT-related budgeted savings targets included in the council’s financial plans.

An urgent report will go to Cabinet on Monday 30 June 2014 to conclude the review of the Service Birmingham contract. Cabinet will be recommended to approve the continuation of the ICT and Revenue contracts in return for substantial savings over the remaining seven years of the contract.

Cabinet will also be asked to approve bringing the council’s contact centre in-house by the end of the year.

Under the council’s control, the centre will focus on a ‘One Contact’ vision through which there will be an emphasis on the ‘end-to-end’ service, integrating back-office operations with customer-facing ones. This will ensure as many queries as possible are resolved at the first point of contact with the local authority.

There will also be agreement to introduce new controls over projects, a joint commitment to create a modern, fit for purpose ICT strategy and most importantly, to agree to identify further savings beyond the £150m figure.

Birmingham City Council Deputy Leader, Cllr Ian Ward, said: “We have negotiated an agreement with Service Birmingham which provides a major step forward in reducing our cost base for ICT.  On balance, the council considers the risk of changing ICT provider at this time, too risky, would take a considerable period of time to procure and would cost additional tens of millions upfront in early termination charges and re-procurement costs.

“However, we are convinced that by bringing the contact centre in-house we can deliver additional financial savings, but more importantly place customer service at the core of what the council is about.  We will be able to work more effectively with front line services to improve customer interaction.

“Services don’t stand still and we now need to take arrangements on to the next level with a focus on the customer. Following an extensive review of what is possible, by studying what other providers and organisations are doing, we feel the greatest benefit will come from an in-house service.

“What I will also want to see coming out of this challenge is for both parties to work harder to make the partnership work, better than it has to date.  We need to make sure we have an ICT strategy that is fit for purpose and that we improve our control and planning for projects.

Subject to the Cabinet decision, Heads of Terms will be signed as soon as possible, consultation with employees will take place with a view to the revised contract being signed by end of September 2014, with savings backdated to 1 April 2014.

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. The Service Birmingham contract, initially started in 2006, was extended by the parties in October 2010 and runs until 31 March 2021.

2. The contract covers three principal areas; ICT, Contact Centre and Revenues.  Service Birmingham also has non-exclusive contracts for project management and transformation as well as directly providing services to schools.

3. The Service Birmingham contract operates through a Joint Venture, between Birmingham City Council and Capita.

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