Councillors have rejected calls to bring all Capita-run services back in-house – despite many residents favouring such an approach.

The safety, health and wellbeing service and some individual roles currently outsourced to Capita will be brought back under the direct control of Barnet Council – but many other key services will, for the time being at least, remain under the firm’s control.

Barnet Council has two ten-year outsourcing contracts with Capita – RE and Customer and Support Group – which began in 2013 and cover a range of key services.

Finance and strategic human resources were brought back in-house in April after the council admitted there had been “performance issues” with the contracts.

A draft review of the findings of a public consultation on the council’s deals with Capita revealed many residents were in favour of bringing all services back in-house.

The consultation, which took place between December and February, also showed people’s views of the services provided by Capita were “largely negative”.

At Monday's (June 17) meeting of the policy and resources committee, Labour councillors called for all Capita-run services to be brought back in-house amid concerns over the firm’s financial health.

Capita’s share price dipped below £1 a share on Tuesday – down from £13 a share four years ago.

Southampton City Council recently ended its deals with Capita and in-sourced the services, saying the needs of its customers had “changed significantly” since the contracts were signed in 2007.

But Conservative members of the committee rejected calls for Barnet to follow suit and stressed the contracts would save £120 million over ten years.

They warned in-sourcing all of the services would increase the council’s budget deficit and stressed the need to focus on improving the performance of the contracts.

Council leader and committee chairman Cllr Dan Thomas said: “Those services that have been brought back in-house are crucial services but relatively small.

“On this (Conservative) side, it is felt that effort should be going into improvement. There are huge cost implications of breaking the contract and bringing it all back in house.”

Labour leader Cllr Rawlings claimed signing ten-year contracts with no break clause was one of the fundamental problems with the deals.

He said: “In-house, you can be flexible. When tied to a contract, you can be flexible – but that flexibility has a price tag with it.”

Cllr Thomas called on Labour councillors to provide “some idea of what their alternative would be” to outsourcing to Capita.

Labour councillor for West Finchley Cllr Ross Houston pointed out that the public consultation suggested the council link up with other local authorities to provide services and cut costs.

He said: “That, I think, is the way to go. There is no reason why you can’t work with other local authorities to provide scale.”

Cllr Thomas claimed the council had approached neighbouring authorities before the Capita contracts were signed but they had not shown much interest in partnership deals.

Cllr Rawlings told the committee that the contracts were about more than just commercial considerations.

He said: “What we believe is there is such a thing as the public sector, that civic ethos is important, accountability and democracy are important – and that contracts like this undermine that.

“Let’s make the decision tonight that this is the time to terminate the contracts. Be politically brave and put the public interest first.”

Cllr Rawlings’ amendment was defeated when Conservative members voted against it.

The committee agreed to bring the safety, health and wellbeing service back in-house, along with the director of place role and the skills, employment and economic development team from the regeneration service.

A review of the remaining outsourced services will be carried out in the autumn.