Dismal user ratings of services provided by Capita have led to fears councillors are not being given the chance to hold the firm to account.

The outsourcing company, which runs a range of Barnet Council services from IT to finance, failed to meet all its user satisfaction targets – and its performance worsened in three areas.

Capita has never met the contracted user satisfaction levels since two major outsourcing deals were struck with Barnet Council in 2013 – although the council says there have been “incremental improvements” in some service areas.

The 2018-19 results were discussed at a meeting of the financial performance and contracts committee on Wednesday (June 19).

Labour councillor for Brunswick Park Cllr Kathy Levine described the ratings as “awful” and said they should be discussed at “themed” committees dedicated to particular service areas.

But she warned that may not happen because 22 of this year’s meetings have been cancelled.

Cllr Levine said: “Given they are now also supposed to be doing the scrutiny, I am finding it concerning we are having so many meetings cancelled. If you cancel one meeting, there is often quite a big gap between the two meetings.

“I would urge the leader of the council to look at this. I am really quite concerned about the level of scrutiny that themed committees are allowed to do if they are cancelled at this rate.”

Director of resources Anisa Darr said some of the cancelled meetings were “reserved” for if serious incidents needed to be debated and there was “not necessarily a reduction in the scrutiny level”.

But Conservative chairman of the committee Cllr Peter Zinkin said he shared some of Cllr Levine’s concerns and he would raise them with council leader Cllr Dan Thomas.

Cllr Levine said: “The themed committees need to be discussing customer satisfaction as well as financial stuff – and if they are cancelling meetings, I am concerned that is not being done properly.”

Cllr Zinkin admitted the user satisfaction scores were “completely unsatisfactory”.

He added upcoming reviews of the Capita services needed to “pick out a series of specific milestones they need to achieve to demonstrate improvement”.

Cllr Zinkin said: “We need to know what it is that people want done to make these services better – otherwise we do not know if effort is being applied in the right way.”

The council brought some of the services provided by Capita in-house earlier this year after admitting “performance issues” with some of the contracts.

It will review the remaining services in the autumn.