London Assembly cautions Met Police on outsourcing

30 Sep 15

The Metropolitan Police risks a high-profile outsourcing failure unless it improves its commercial expertise, London Assembly members have warned.

Following a probe of the Met’s outsourcing plans, the Assembly’s Budget & Performance Committee cautioned that unsuccessful outsourcing deals could put service performance at risk and fail to deliver projected savings.

Current outsourcing plans are focused on back-office services, but Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has said all services except core policing should be reviewed to see if external organisations can provide them at better value.

The Met has had to find revenue savings of 20% – around £573m – over the five years from 2010/11 to 2015/16, and is braced for another £800m in cuts after the Spending Review in November.

Labour assembly member John Biggs, who chairs the Budget & Performance Committee, said: “The funding challenge facing the Met is undoubtedly tough – but there is a real risk to the public if it signs a bad deal.

“In particular, the Met must ensure it has the business nous to find the right commercial partners and then manage contracts effectively to ensure Londoners’ money is spent wisely.

“The stakes are very high – no-one wants to see yet another high-profile outsourcing botch.”

The committee’s report was issued while 445 of the Met’s human resources, payroll and procurement staff transfer to a joint venture involving French outsourcing firm Sopra Steria and the Cabinet Office.

The committee highlighted the zero-hour contracts that have been used by Sopra Steria in an outsourcing deal with Cleveland police.

“The Met needs to be upfront about whether it will allow zero-hour contracts in its own outsourcing deals,” the committee said.

In a statement the Met said: “As policing budgets across the country continue to be squeezed, it is vital that savings are made in order to protect frontline services. The report acknowledges the challenges faced by the Met and the progress they are making in addressing these.

“The report highlights the critical need to get all elements of the commercial life cycle right. The illumination provided will be valuable in further improving the commercial strategy and helping the Met meet the enormous challenge of the next Spending Review.”

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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