Council leader explains why Serco contract was terminated

THE LEADER of Thurrock Council, cllr John Kent rose on the floor of the civic chambers to explain to the councillors present why it was agreed to terminate the Serco contract.

Speaking at Wednesday (22 July) evening’s meeting of the council, Cllr Kent explained some of the costs and savings and future negotiations regarding other “council staff” current6ly working for outside organisations.

He talked of savings of between £3½ million and £4 million a year.

He said: “As everyone will know, yesterday we announced that the contract with our strategic partner, Serco, will end in November.

“Also, as everyone will understand, the negotiations to end such a large and complicated contract have been long and detailed; the negotiations also include what can and what should not be said publicly.

“So tonight’s statement is worded very carefully.”

He explained: “The contract costs “Thurrock Council around £20 million every year..

“We have agreed to pay just under £10 million to end the contract – a lot of money, but only half what we have paid Serco – and before that Vertex – in the last few years, and would pay them each and every year for the next five years too.

“Obviously it’s not quite that simple, but we know that in these times of austerity we would rather any profits, so to speak, went direct on services to local people rather than Serco’s shareholders.

“That money is not simply a pay-off, but includes things like computer equipment and telephony that will transfer back to the council, as well as some sub-contractor costs – but admittedly there is a loss of profit payment within it.”

Cllr Kent said: “This is not the time to detail the savings to the council – and council tax-payers of Thurrock – that will become clear over the coming months as we analyse the future savings we have to make, here in the chamber, in cabinet, and in overview and scrutiny meetings.

“However it is clear that there will be major savings of between £3½ million and £4 million every year.”

Speaking of the future, Cllr Kent added: “As you can tell from this we are looking at all of our outsourced services and staff – Billfinger for example – with a view to closely examining the advantages and disadvantages of bringing them back in-house … or not.

“I don’t want to commit to making any further decisions here, but I do know the hard work and effort our facilities management team and others put in on behalf of local people and I want us to find the best way forward for them and us too.

“Finally tonight, I want to assure the 350 or so people who will be returning to the council that we will be working very closely with Serco to make that move as smooth as possible over the coming months – we value their expertise and experience, and we are looking forward to them joining the Thurrock Council family.”

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