Thursday, 2 July 2009

How Much!!???

Well the Freedom of Information responses are coming in thick and fast now, I'm having touble keeping up with them.

This one is probably the juiciest so far and concerns the use of consultants and external benefits processors by NCC's Housing Benefits services.

Our story starts back in 2002. Essentially, NCC Housing Benefits were shit. No I mean really, REALLY shit, so shit that even Geoff Hibbert was embarrassed and that's saying something.

So they brought in 'change management consultants' Kendric Ash (now owned by Northgate) to sort it out. This work carried on until 2008 according to the FoI response from NCC.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, over that period NCC paid them a total of £939,577. Which is a lot.

Interestingly, the only mention of the tasks they were asked to perform that actually mentions 'customers' (that's benefit claimants to me and you) was improving 'customer access'. So at least you can get in the office a bit quicker.

A clue to the true agenda lies in this sentence

"Develop a Performance Framework and culture to provide demonstrable, sustainable service improvement and deliver consistent, underlying improvement against all KPIs."

KPI = Key Performance Indicator and is the set of measurements that the Audit Commission uses to rate the effectiveness of services. I've blogged before about how Housing Benefits see their primary customer base as being the Audit Commission rather than service users.

Meanwhile, again due to being a bit shit, NCC were having to pay outsidde companies to carry out a chunk of their benefits processing for them. These companies included Crapita (ye gods, that's desperation for you although they didn't stay long) and Hyder Business Services who morphed into Mouchel.

Anyway, Mouchel are still on board and were paid £266,279 last year. In 2003/4, the year of highest spending, a total of £750,749 was spent between two companies. In total, between the years 2002 and 2009 NCC has spent £2,165,540 on private sector housing benefits processing.

Again, I've written briefly about this before, when I was shocked to hear for the first time that NCC were using external processing (its amazing what they keep from you, even when you work for them as I did at one time). NCC's own internal audit service say they "...have been critical of external contractor performance."

So, to sum it all up, NCC paid consultants nearly a million quid in order to make Housing Benefits not shit, and they only succeeded to the point that Housing Benefits still had to pay an average of over £300k per year on external processing by companies who were regarded by NCC internal audit as being a bit shit themselves.

But they got their 4 star rating you see and that's what it was all about, you don't worry about having the worst accuracy rate in the entire East Midlands or that your Discretionary Housing Payments scheme is a complete shambles.

And you certainly don't worry about what the money could have been better spent on, we leave that to the unions...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I admire your tenacity is hunting these things down and exposing them... almost as much as I marvel, open-mouthed and with increasing incredulity, at the monumental inefficiency and sheer, bare-faced, cheek of NCC in perpetrating these municipal frauds upon council tax payers.

Where will it all end?