Report on the Performance of the Serco Partnership (2013/2014)
- Meeting of Sustainable Growth and Environment Capital Scrutiny Committee, Thursday 17th July, 2014 7.00 pm (Item 6.)
The report was introduced by the Serco Operations Manager and provided the Committee with an update on the performance of the Serco Partnership during the 2013-2014 municipal year. Key highlights covered the following areas:
- Transformation; and
Questions and observations were made around the following areas:
· Members referred to page 32, paragraph 6.3 “The Complaints related to Revenues and Benefits” and were concerned as to the number (157) of complaints relating to delayed/failed services. The Serco Operations Manager stated this largely referred to the Council Tax Support Scheme. Eleven thousand residents were paying council tax for the first time so there was a deluge of calls coming in which caused delays. The majority of complaints largely referred to this.
· Members asked how the new online benefits claims system was progressing. The Serco Operations Manager stated that this had improved processing time from 29 days to 24 days. However some claims would always be longer than the average time.
· Members commented that Serco staff were always helpful and willing to listen.
· Members asked what non-compliance spending referred to. The Serco Operations Manager stated that this would be where the council would work with the procurement team to identify a range of savings. It might be that the savings may not be exactly what the council would want and therefore did not follow a recommendation from Serco in the interest of customer service.
· Members noted that Serco and the Council had signed a Notice of Change to remove the two remaining break clauses and asked why this had been agreed. The Serco Operations Manager stated that there were two contracts with the council. One was the Serco Partnership Contract and the other was the ICT Contract which had predated the Partnership Contract. The ICT contract underpinned the transformation work and was therefore vital. Break clauses were approaching both parties and both parties wanted to stay together. The remedy was therefore to remove both break clauses to ensure continued delivery of the projects.
· Members asked if the development of high-speed broadband referred only to council owned facilities. The Serco Operations Manager stated that the initial phase of the project was only for public buildings. The council would be saving a considerable amount even with this first phase.
· Members followed-up stating that the ICT support for councillors was of a high quality, however the council was in a difficult economic situation and asked if there was a risk that councillors were subject to too much generosity in terms of ICT support. Was there a single piece of technology that did everything that a laptop, iPad etc. did. The Head of Strategic Commissioning/Transformation responded that there were areas that were being looked at regarding the use of one piece of technology which would do everything that iPads, laptops, etc. would do. Google Chrome books were being looked at.
· Members responded that the difficulty in an ICT strategy was that there was competition between Apple and Microsoft and therefore there was difficulty in having systems which worked together. The Serco Operations Manager stated that this was indeed the case but it was regrettably outside of Serco’s control.
· Members asked about the server upgrades and requested an update on where this was and what the timeframe was for delivery. The Serco Operations Manager responded that the direction of travel for the council was to move away from locally based servers and move to a cloud-based server. This would mean data was placed in areas other than local servers based within the council. Data would therefore be in a central place and far more secure. This would be an incremental process.
· The Cabinet Member for Resources advised that there was a very wide ranging change to the IT architecture which underpinned the services that the council provided and what that would look like in future. Services to residents would be provided in a more cost-effective one stop way than it was at the current time. This would be shared with councillors in the coming months but it would need to be shared with Cabinet first.
The Committee noted the report and requested a further report in one year.
Councillor Harrington, Group Leader, Peterborough Independent Forum left the meeting at this point.