The confidential briefing on the JV took place today at County Hall. Even though the briefing was marked as confidential, I checked with legal to ask what I could and could not say. Saying that, I still believe what I am about to blog is in the public interest, and will defend that right if anyone wants to say otherwise.
The first announcement of the day was one of the bidders has pulled out. CSC have decided not to progress with their venture, and informed the Council yesterday! Maybe it would have been nice to know as it happened. Not over 24 hours later.
This leaves BT as the only bidder in the process, and today they gave their presentation of how they are the best company to deal with. To stick within the rules, I will not be discussing the financial figures, even though they are important to the bid.
The first point I will clarify is if the contract is awarded to BT, all staff that are transferred WILL be transferred to a wholly owned company of BT. So the staff will not be employed by the Council but BT. In the deal, 750 council and 250 ‘health’ staff will be transferred. If that is not outsourcing I do not know what is!
BT has promised to create 1043 jobs in the first four years. However, 38% of those jobs will be low-skilled. This is not a made up figure, but taken from the presentation today. My understanding is many of the higher-skilled jobs will be in health. I am really worried the 396 will be low-skilled and low paid because why would a company pay more than the going rate in the area. This point was raised by many Councillors and they were concerned with this aspect of the bid. I know a job is a job, but when it could be little more than the national minimum wage, I do not think that is good enough.
Much emphasis was also placed on a lot of services being ‘self-service’. In other words by the dreaded soul-destroying call centre and you having to push more numbers than is in a complicated maths equation. I know I hate this type of service, and would imagine many others are in the similar view.
While I am grateful for BT being open about their deal, and their presentation was very good; I am though concerned it is business as usual and yesterday’s fun and games is being treated like it never happened. I am also worried with only one bid in the running, which could be to the advantage of BT.
I guess everything now will rest on the 23rd to see if the Council finally gives the killing blow to the current proposals, or allows it to go ahead.
Roll on the 23rd!