North Tyneside Council bosses sign off major Capita rollback

North Tyneside Council Headquarters at Cobalt Business Park
-Credit: (Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

North Tyneside Council bosses have signed off on a major rollback on its contract with outsourcing giant Capita.

The local authority’s cabinet has approved scaling back Capita’s role in “core services” including planning, property, engineering, and highways. The move will see around 200 workers, protected under TUPE regulations, returned to the council and Capita will retain work for major, usually grant-funded, projects until October 2027.

Capita’s future work under the revised contract must also be able to demonstrate good value for money, as well as be on time, on budget, and to a high standard. In 2022/23, Capita received penalties from the local authority in relation to the maintenance and repairs of the borough’s roads and pavements.

In addition, councillors questioned Capita's 'Key Performance Indicators' with regards to highway and footpath repairs and inspections at an overview and scrutiny committee meeting in September last year. Coun Davey Drummond raised the issue of repeat repairs for the same problem.

At the meeting in September, coun Pat Oliver said: “I think a lot of us would have a lot to say about the standard of repairs, I don't know what an acceptable standard is but I’ve looked at some and thought that ain’t an acceptable standard.”

At that time, Capita stated there were times when they needed to return to locations for repeat repairs and this was often due to factors outside of its control such as vehicles ruining recently repaired work. In addition, Capita stated it carried out inspections to flagged road issues from councillors or residents within three working days, 98% of the time.

The planning and property aspects of Capita’s contract are set to be returned to the local authority in October this year, with engineering and highways to follow in January 2025. Capita’s role in delivering work for the council was agreed upon by the previous Conservative administration in 2012 under the then-Mayor of North Tyneside coun Linda Arkley.

Jon Ritchie, director of resources at North Tyneside Council said: “The council maintains a positive relationship with Capita and will continue to work with them on specific projects. Returning core services, including planning, property, and highways, will allow us to directly shape them in line with our vision, culture and priorities. It will allow us to have flexible, adaptable services that meet the needs of our customers and continue to provide good value for money.

“Throughout this process, our priority will be to support a smooth transition for all the staff in scope and to maintain the high level of service our communities expect and deserve.”

A Capita spokesperson said: “We’re really proud of what we have accomplished in partnership with North Tyneside Council since 2012. We look forward to continuing to work together on projects where Capita can provide additional resources, scale and expertise to best serve communities across North Tyneside.”