The council could face a regulatory crackdown over “serious” problems with the management of the local authority’s pension scheme.

On Monday (March 11), members of Barnet Council’s finance committee said the council could be subject to further regulatory action if data quality problems in the pension scheme – which is managed by outsourcing giant Capita – are not addressed.

Barnet Council was fined £1,000 by The Pensions Regulator in 2017 over its failure to submit pension information by the statutory deadline.

Capita later came under fire after making late payments of almost £2.4 million to the council pension fund.

The report discussed by the financial performance and contracts committee on Monday states that “further issues” have emerged despite efforts to improve pension administration, including “some admission agreements and bonds not being in place”.

It adds that “significant data quality issues remain”.

Chair of the committee Cllr Peter Zinkin said the problems around data quality were “very serious”.

He said: “It is clear the regulator is losing patience with us and is expecting this to be dealt with fairly rapidly.

“I believe the (Capita-run) Customer and Support Group team are taking this appropriately seriously, finally, and strenuous efforts are being made to improve the quality of data.”

Cllr Zinkin added that the council faced the possibility of further regulatory action if the issues were not dealt with swiftly.

Cllr Arjun Mittra, Labour member for East Finchley, proposed bringing pension administration back under the council’s control.

He said: “This came to our attention in September 2017. It is quite disappointing that 18 months on we have still not fixed the issue.

“I take very little reassurance and wonder how close we are to having to take this service back in house regardless of what happens with the other contracts.

“This is not anywhere near good enough.”

Cllr Zinkin replied: “The fact that the service is not good enough is exactly correct.

“The idea that the council could turn this around is not obvious to me. It is a very technical service and not something the council would be able to do particularly well.”

The committee chair said the council had not ruled out taking pension administration back in house because the matter had not been discussed.

He added that the council would know “by the end of this month whether we have solved the problems”.

Barnet Council is bringing finance and strategic human resources back in house after admitting Capita’s handling of the services was not good enough.

It has also agreed a £4.12 million compensation package with the outsourcing firm to cover the costs of dealing with a £2 million fraud and other contractual failings.

But Labour members of the finance committee raised concerns other outsourced services were not performing well enough.

Cllr Mittra said Capita’s failure to submit a quarterly council tax and business rates return to the Government in October last year “felt like history repeating itself”.

And Cllr Kathy Levine, Labour member for Brunswick Park, branded Capita’s failure to meet nine user satisfaction targets a “dreadful result”.

Labour leader Cllr Barry Rawlings added: “What worries me is, with four years left on the (Capita) contract, is there really any incentive to improve it?”

Cllr Zinkin replied: “There are many dangers; however, I do believe we are in a position where progress is possible.”