Capita has faced fresh calls to improve the running of Barnet Council’s pension scheme as it rushes to fix critical data errors.

Labour councillors urged the outsourcing firm to make “sustainable” improvements to the scheme after thousands of mistakes were found that could affect the pension pots of council employees.

The council was recently given an ultimatum by the Pensions Regulator to fix problems with the pension fund by the end of August or face a civil fine of up to £50,000.

On Monday (July 29), Labour councillor for East Finchley Cllr Alison Moore called for a report to be drawn up setting out alternatives to a Capita-run pension fund.

Cllr Moore told the pension fund committee: “We have had meeting after meeting, review after review over the last several years about challenges around data and pension fund administration issues.

“We are clearly seeing improvements now. But even if the pension regulator’s deadlines are met, we would have to be quite clear that we want not only those to be met but ongoing, sustainable improvements and maintaining that in the future.

“There is little in the past four years that would give us that assurance.”

The pension fund – one of several council services now outsourced to Capita – has been hit by several problems over the past few years.

In 2017, Barnet Council was fined £1,000 for missing a statutory deadline for sending out pension statements.

It has now been told by the regulator to make three key improvements – including monthly monitoring of employer contributions – after more than 6,000 critical data errors were spotted in the scheme in December.

Capita has been working to fix the problems and the number of critical errors is now below 100.

Cllr Moore’s call was backed by fellow Labour committee members Cllrs Danny Rich and Anne Hutton.

Anisa Darr, the council’s director of finance, said the council’s policy and resources committee was already putting contingency plans in place for if Capita fails to meet the deadline.

Committee chair Cllr Mark Shooter questioned whether Cllr Moore’s suggestion could be counterproductive given that the council wanted to work with Capita to meet the regulator’s deadline.

He said: “We need to work with them (Capita) for the time being. If we meet these deadlines, obviously we can try to correct things going forward.

“I think this might send out the wrong message over the next 32 days. I think it is more important for them to get the job done and the regulator is satisfied.”

Cllr Shooter said he was liaising with policy and resources chairman Cllr Peter Zinkin, who was working closely with Capita to ensure the deadline was met.

Cllr Shooter added: “We have got a rap on the knuckles and have to make sure we comply.”

The committee chairman said he could understand Cllr Moore’s concerns but urged her to wait until a future meeting of the committee to discuss the issue again.

Cllr Moore agreed and pledged to raise the item again at the next committee meeting in September.