Contractor Civica takes over council tax, housing benefit and other shared services in east Kent

Thanet council

Private contractor Civica takes over a shared service that deals with council tax, housing benefit, non-domestic rates, debt recovery and customer services for Thanet, Dover and Canterbury today (February 1).

The three councils have signed contracts with the firm for a period of 7 years plus the option to extend by a further 3 years.

The outsourcing of the East Kent Services (EKS) functions, which looked after those areas for the three councils, is aimed at cutting costs without the need for redundancies.

EKS was formed five years ago to provide IT,HR, revenues and benefits and customer services. It has saved the three councils £6million but from this year the organisation would have needed to make savings of between £300,000 and £500,000.

Dominic Whelan, Director of Shared Services at East Kent Services (EKS), said: “We are extremely proud of the fact the team at EKS has saved the three councils more than £6m since it was created in 2011.

“But the financial challenges in the public sector continue to come thick and fast.

“Without our partnership with Civica, the three councils would have needed to invest £2m extra in EKS over the next seven years in order to maintain the level of service we currently provide.

“Or they could have cut services and lost around 70 highly-skilled jobs.

“By taking this path, the three councils have protected the jobs and terms and conditions of the 235 transferring EKS staff, and it is highly likely they will benefit from Civica’s expansion in the south east at a time when every penny counts as councils fight to balance their budgets and maintain services.

“Civica has a successful track record in local government partnerships which supports the sustained provision of quality services and delivers savings”.

Gary Bell, Executive Director, Partnerships and Managed Services at Civica commented: “This innovative agreement will provide the three councils in east Kent with a means to sustain and improve services to citizens while achieving predicted cost savings of £5.3m over the next seven years.

“The partnership harnesses our successful platform-based approach, combining Civica’s operational expertise and technology know-how with the local knowledge and experience of the East Kent Services team to blend the best of public and private sectors. We’re delighted to be setting up a service centre in east Kent and look forward to building on our long-term relationship to support the councils’ wider transformation.”

This will leave EKS with just ICT Services, HR, some Quality Assurance aspects and contract management.

A report to the three councils says: “In addition to the operational savings within EKS from the contract price, there will be additional savings from a future restructure within the remaining elements of EKS, overseen by the councils’ Heads of Paid Service. It is anticipated as the residual element of EKS will be able to achieve some efficiencies due to the reduction in scale of the overall organisation.”

Civica will take on:

  • 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