News : Lancashire County Council Scraps Joint Venture with BT
Feb 3, 2014 -- Lancashire County Council has ended a joint venture with BT less than three years into a 10-year contract that promised to save the local authority between 2011 and 2021.
ComputerworldUK revealed the council’s plans to outsource its IT, customer service, HR and payroll and procurement functions in May 2011. Since then, these services have been carried out under One Connect Limited (OCL), a strategic partnership in which BT had a stake and Lancashire County Council the remaining stake.
However, in a joint statement late last month, the partners announced that a number of services, including welfare rights and human resources, would be brought back in-house from 31 March 2014, following a strategic review. BT will continue to deliver ICT, payroll and revenue and benefits services to the county council.
One Connect Limited will become a wholly-owned BT company and renamed as BT Lancashire Services Limited. There will no longer be a joint board of directors. Instead, senior representatives from the council and BT will work together to regularly review progress.
Hundreds of council staff currently working under OCL will return to the council and some will continue their secondments to OCL to work on the remaining outsourced services. In 2012/13, there were 1,229 staff seconded to OCL, comprising 1,093 from Lancashire County Council, 81 from West Lancashire Borough Council and 55 from BT.
Lancashire County Council and West Lancashire Borough Council have a 10-year agreement in place, signed in July 2011, for OCL to provide ICT and revenues and benefits services to West Lancashire.
Leader of the council Jennifer Mein said: "There is no doubt BT’s expertise in cutting-edge technology has been a real benefit in a number of service areas to date and as a forward-thinking council we’ll continue to need that kind of support and innovation.
"The changes allow us to focus on developing that potential in partnership with BT while bringing back services and decisions that sit better in the county council’s structure."
The council’s interim chief executive, Jo Turton, added: "BT is an important partner of the county council's, not just through the strategic partnership but also in supporting us on several key initiatives including the Superfast Lancashire broadband programme and the creation of hundreds of new BT [contact centre] jobs in Accrington.
"Repositioning the partnership with BT will allow us to focus on securing access to BT's technologies and skills that otherwise wouldn't be available to a local council."
According to Tony Chanmugam, chairman of OCL and chief financial officer (CFO) of BT Group, the timing of the strategic review had been agreed in advance. "The environment in which local authorities operate is continually changing. We all appreciated that when OCL was created and it was one reason for agreeing that a strategic review would take place at around this time," he said.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Monday, February 3, 2014