A shared service that deals with council tax, housing benefit, non-domestic rates, debt recovery and customer services for Thanet, Dover and Canterbury could be taken over by a private contractor.
Cabinet members at Thanet council are due to discuss the development of a business case to outsource East Kent Services (EKS) which currently looks after those areas for the three councils.
It was formed five years ago to provide IT,HR, revenues and benefits and customer services. It has saved the three councils £6million but from 2018 the organisation will need to make savings of between £300,000 and £500,000.
A report to Cabinet members says this would mean some 30 redundancies would have to take place. The report states: “ EKS is now at the point where cutting services in line with its partner Councils’ affordability constraints will start to have a direct impact on service quality, raising the risk of service failure and performance degradation on Benefits (error bonus and payment time) and Council Tax and Business Rates collection levels as well as Customer Services.
Several changes to the service are being reviewed and councillors are expected to agree to allow EKS, which currently employs 300 people, to develop a business case for outsourcing:
- Council Tax Administration and Enforcement
- National Non-Domestic Rates Administration and Enforcement
- Housing Benefit and associated services
- Council Tax Reduction Scheme and associated services
- Debt Recovery
- Customer Services
The report says: “Rather than a traditional outsource of service, it is felt that a strategic Commercial Venture with a private partner has the potential to protect and grow jobs and develop services whilst delivering savings.”
The proposal will be discussed at a Thanet council meeting on Thursday at 7pm.