Peterborough: the Transfers Continue

08:32 Friday 7th October 2011
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridge

PAUL STAINTON: Council tax collection is just one of a number of back-room services at the City Council set to be transferred to a private firm, in a deal which could save the city £25 million. 450 workers at Peterborough City Council will be transferred as part of the move, and the City Council assures there’s unlikely to be job losses, and say they have already made £2 million worth of administrative savings in 2009/10. Let’s Speak to David Seaton. He’s Cabinet Member for Resources at Peterborough City Council. Morning David.
DAVID SEATON: Morning Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: So you’ve already made £2 million worth of savings. How have they come about?
DAVID SEATON: Well making it a very efficient operation. So looking at the processes they undertake, they handle benefits paperwork. As you say they collect council tax. We manage the buildings. We have some improvements in the way we purchase services, improved back-office support. Bringting all that into a central team. The whole range of things that we’ve done.
PAUL STAINTON: Right. OK. And has that involved  .. that’s involved job losses, has it?
DAVID SEATON: There have been some job reductions. And you’re aware that as part of the 28% cuts in grant that we’ve had, we lost around 181 posts over the least year. So yes, there have been some reductions already.
PAUL STAINTON: So what’s going to happen here then? 450 workers are going to be transferred. But these are people that are dealing with council tax money, and things like that, which is quite difficult, isn’t it? You’ve got to put a lot of safeguards in place here surely.
DAVID SEATON: Oh absolutely. If I just explain Paul, we’ve built a business in Peterborough called Manor Drive. And that business has won  both public and private sector national awards. We’ve reached the point in time when it needs a larger owner, to be able to pitch for major public and private sector work, and bring that work to the city. Now we have two great bidders, Balfour Beatty and Serco. They’re both international companies, looking to build on the presence they already have in the UK by establishing a base in the East of England. They recognise the strong operation we have, the great location that Peterborough has in the country, and they’ll use us as a base to grow from.
PAUL STAINTON:Right. So there’s not going to be job cuts here though?
DAVID SEATON: No. Absolutely. We’re looking to grow the business, take on more work. The preferred bidder is talking about basing some of its national operations in Peterborough, which I think is great news. So for example I think that the benefits operation will be in Peterborough. That’s really positive. We have to be realistic. With budget cuts of 28%, we need to save money. You’ve mentioned that. But it’s also about providing investment in better services, bringing more jobs into Peterborough.
PAUL STAINTON: We look forward to seeing it happen, and we’ll be all across it when it does. 450 workers at Peterborough City Council transferred as part of this proposed move, back room services, which could save £25 million for Peterborough City Council.