Taunton council to bring some outsourced services back in-house?

By Tony Collins

A week after praising the Southwest One joint venture with IBM, officers at Taunton Deane Borough Council are recommending bringing some services back in-house.

Last week a report to councillors said:

 “Service delivery for TDBC, viewed in the round, is broadly on track. The majority of services perform well or extremely well (eg Customer Services). We do have concerns in some areas and we are working closely with the services in question to remedy the issues.”

Now Penny James, Chief Executive of the council, has written to staff about bringing services back in-house.

“Dear All

The Corporate & Client Services Team has over the past few months with the assistance of Southwest One (SWO) reviewed the services being provided to TDBC under our contract with SWO.

“The review has considered whether, in the light of the decisions taken by Somerset County Council to remove a number of their services from SWO and by Avon and Somerset Police to remove Property Services, TDBC [Taunton Deane Borough Council] should also consider whether services should be removed…

“The review concludes that it would be prudent for TDBC to bring back in-house the following service areas: Corporate Administration, Design & Print, Facilities Management, Finance Advisory, HR Advisory (including Learning and Development) and Property Services.  These are all services where TDBC has largely lost the benefit of shared service delivery.”

James says a formal decision will require the agreement of councillors after consultation with staff directly affected by the potential changes. The consultation will end on 31 October and a decision will be taken by the full council on 12 November 2013.

“Should the members agree to the return of these services the necessary changes are likely to be implemented early in 2014,” says James.

In a statement to Taunton’s Corporate Scrutiny Committee last week, local resident Dave Orr, who has campaigned for the full truth over the Southwest One venture to be made public, told Taunton’s councillors that the council had borrowed £3.65m in 2008 to buy SAP from IBM and Southwest One.

“That debt was to be paid out of procurement savings and should have been paid off 18 months ago. Instead, almost £1m of the debt for SAP is left, incurring interest charges that are reducing funding for our Council services.”

Orr said in the statement that Southwest One has continued to make losses and IBM has disposed of its global customer service business which adds to uncertainty over the future of the joint venture.

“Will Southwest One survive to the end of contract in 2017 or will parent company actions by IBM from the USA bring about an earlier demise? What is Taunton Deane’s response to this added uncertainty and risk?

He concluded: “Don’t throw any more money away in South West One – we can’t afford it.”

5 responses to “Taunton council to bring some outsourced services back in-house?

  1. Thank you for sharing this.


  2. Jefferson Horsley

    There is widespread sceptism that Taunton Deane is also losing from the whole ill-fated SW1 project. I am unconvinced that the this latest bringing back in-house of these serviices will save TDBC any money – and could cost significantly. Jefferson Horsley – Leader of Lib Dem group on Taunton Deane Borough Council


  3. More gushing comments, playing down problems and risks:

    1st October Taunton Deane Full Council: 2. Corporate and Client Services Client Team

    2.1 The Client Team continues to monitor delivery by the various Southwest One services, which remains broadly on-track.
    Southwest One Contract

    2.2 The review of Southwest One services, which followed the changes
    made to the Southwest One contract by Somerset County Council (SCC) in April, is ongoing, but will hopefully be concluded in the near future. Any recommendations for change will be brought before

    Minor Change to Southwest One Contract

    2.3 On 1 July 2013 we made a minor change to the contract which saw the successful return of the Health and Safety function.

    Southwest One Update

    2.4 We have been advised by IBM that they are selling their global
    ‘customer care business process outsourcing services’ business to a
    company called SYNNEX. This is a large IBM global deal and will take a number of months to complete.

    2.5 This may have some implications for Southwest One, but as yet we do not know any details. The Client Team, in conjunction with the other partners to Southwest One, is currently working to clarify any potential contractual issues. However, any contract to which we are a party cannot be changed without our agreement.

    Procurement Savings

    2.6 We continue to monitor the delivery of the Procurement Transformation Project and day-to-day procurement service by Southwest One. As at 31 July 2013, in excess of £1,800,000 savings have been delivered to the Council through the signed-off procurement related initiatives. A further £1,364,000 of savings are scheduled to be delivered from these signed-off initiatives during the remainder of the Southwest One contract.

    2.7 The strategic Procurement Services are working on a number of additional projects and savings initiatives, which should increase the value of savings delivered. A detailed Procurement Transformation Update report went to the Corporate Scrutiny Committee on 19 September 2013.


  4. Pingback: The biggest cause of shared services failure? | Calchas

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