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SOUTHWARK PLANS£10M FINANCE CONTRACT

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Labour controlled Southwark LBC is planning the biggest contracting out of financial services in local government....
Labour controlled Southwark LBC is planning the biggest contracting out of financial services in local government.

Members are planning to let a contract worth around £10 million a year to run its revenues and benefits operation. It would run for four or five years. It would affect around 280 staff - 130 more than in Bromley LBC's exchequer services deal with Capita Managed Services.

Some members of Southwark's Labour group are uneasy about being associated with such a high profile voluntary tendering exercise. Peter Timmins, head of exchequer services, said committees had discussed the idea nine times in the past year.

'The council intends to issue contract documents in November', Mr Timmins said.

The council has told interested firms it believes the transfer of undertakings regulations protecting pay and conditions do apply but it is happy for them to seek their own legal advice. Bids for the work are complicated by council proposals to devolve benefits administration to 19 local offices, which would increase the number of staff needed. No decision will be taken on whether to go ahead until a pilot exercise is finished, so bidders are being asked to tender for the work both with and without local benefits offices.

The council consulted leading contract services players Capita and CSL earlier this year to find out if devolution would deter them from bidding.

Mr Timmins said there would be an in house bid for the contract. He said in recent months the finance department had drastically cut the backlog in benefit applications and benefit take up was now at record levels.

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