A for-profit private company looks set to continue benefiting from the UK’s welfare system, after Westminster Council awarded the firm Capita a long-term contract to continue administering the running of Housing Benefit payments and collection of Council Tax debts, it has been reported.
Capita, who are also behind discredited disability benefit assessments and accused of the poor management of vital public services, have been handed a seven year contract to continue collecting Council Tax and manage Housing Benefit payments, in spite of growing concerns around the out-sourcing of public services.
It means that Capita will be able to “maximise income generation” off of the backs of low-income residents in Westminister, London, while placing themselves in a highly favourable position for future contracts.
The contract has already been in place for a staggering 24 years and will run for at least a further seven years following the latest agreement, with estimates placing the value of the extended contract at around £65million.
The contract includes an option to extend it to 10 years.
Capita says the extension of the contract will allow them to roll-out its Capita One programme “across all services, providing a single-user interface, better integration of systems and enhanced provision of data”.
Capita CEO, Dr Jonathan Lewis, stands by the firms’ “digital solutions and data analytics”, whilst the quality and accuracy of benefit assessments carried out by the private contractor continue to be criticised, with some campaigners and even MPs calling for their Personal Independence Payment contract to be removed.
In April 2016, Capita were slammed by mental health physicians due to “inadequacy of the assessments” for PIP, with The British Psychological Society saying they were “extremely concerned about the appropriateness of the training, behaviour and outcome goals of some disability assessors employed by Capita”.
Earlier this year, it was reported that a former member of staff on a council contract with outsourcing firm Capita had been charged in a £2 million fraud case, in relation to the management of pensions as part if the company’s contract with Barnet Council.
In May, the council was called on to take financial reporting back from Capita’s control after a report revealed a £9.5 million black hole had opened up in the local authority’s budget for the coming financial year.
The council’s policy and resources committee discussed the Capita contract review and considered a range of options for service delivery at a meeting on July 19.
The review of the contract with the private provider could see seven services brought back under the council’s control after a report admitted there were areas of “persistent poor performance” in the outsourcing model.
Capita are just one of many profit companies, many of whom are based overseas like the US, who continue to financially benefit from the outsourcing of UK public service contracts, while countless numbers of British citizens are routinely and cruelly denied the vital help and support they desperately need.