Jannies jobs face privatisation bid

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Janitors, cooks, cleaners and porters would be among a series of jobs handed to the private sector in a second attempt to revamp the way council services are provided in Edinburgh.

A contract proposed by city council officials today would see around 1200 jobs and £61 million a year of public services put over to private firms.

Under the plan, outsourcing specialist Mitie would be handed the right to run a batch of “integrated facilities management” (IFM) services that include janitors, catering staff, cleaners and porters.

The company would set up a new partnership called Vital Edinburgh – made up of private firms Mitie, Atkins and Lambert Smith Hampton – in order to deliver the services.

Around 840 jobs within HR, payroll, IT, call centres and revenue and benefits look set to stay within the council after officials recommended rejecting a bid by private firm Capita to take over £34m of “corporate and transactional services” (CATS).

The plan to outsource any jobs is likely to face strong opposition from some political groups and a special meeting of the council has been arranged for next week to decide whether to go ahead with the proposals.

A proposal to outsource services including bin collections and street cleaning was rejected by councillors last month.

In a report on the IFM contract published today, council chief executive Sue Bruce said: “The proposed partnership is anticipated to deliver significant service improvements, bring investment to the service and meet efficiency objectives.”

The Mitie bid would save a guaranteed £51.5m over seven years, as well as the potential of a further £63m of savings, compared with £38m of savings, possibly rising to £63m, in an alternative “in-house” bid.

Mitie has also committed to improving a host of services.

Mrs Bruce has recommended that the Capita bid for the CATS contract is rejected because it would expose the council to “significant risks and potential unforeseen consequences”, despite the Capita proposals offering £69m of savings compared to £38m in-house.

She said: “There is not a compelling business case to adopt a partnership model and therefore the council should terminate the procurement without a contract award.”

It is recommended that officials instead work towards developing the in-house bid.

Councillors will make a final decision next Thursday, with union leaders preparing a protest before it gets under way.

John Stevenson, president of the Edinburgh branch of the trade union Unison, said: “This is the fundamental infrastructure and though they appear to be back-room services they are actually the nuts and bolts.”