8 November 2011

A Sharpe decline of no Benefit

Word reaches Mr Mustard that a Mr David Sharpe, Head of Revenues and Benefits ( I can give his full name without fear of another report to the Information Commissioner for processing data because his name is on the Barnet Council chart of top management - well it is for now ) is to be made redundant on 31 March 2012 ( Mr Mustard is fairly sure that he has had his at risk letter and won't read of it here for the first time ).

His post is being deleted. Some of his department is being moved into the customer services call centre where a manager who is already covering two jobs will have this tricky little baby to deal with.

Here is the Delegated Powers Report about the other job share.
1487 - AD Customer Services and Libraries

Now Mr Sharpe has been at the council for several years and so has lots of specialist knowledge tucked away in his brain which means that he can do his job better than any other person at the council. Mr Mustard has already blogged about the silly idea that a call centre can answer calls on the subject of council tax benefit. So what is going to happen is that ultimately if the entire Revenue & Benefits section is moved into the call centre is they the people who deal with council tax will be sectioned off and only deal with their own calls which isn't a call centre at all.  The economies of scale come from people being trained up to answer questions on multiple things.

In the meantime what will happen is that if the call centre get a call about council tax benefit they will have to take down the details and refer them to the assessment team to respond, and there will be less staff in that team, and they will have to call the customer back. It will be bonkers and cost more than the current system.

Mr Mustard thinks of a call centre employee versus an expert council tax employee answering the telephone in quiz terms. It will be The Weakest Link meets Mastermind.

3 years ago the department, under the management of Mr Sharpe, was rated 4 star and was one of the best in London. What has happened since? One Barnet, that's what. How the One Barnet gurus exert such a strange hold over common sense is not clear.

Also Civica software was installed at the end of 2010. The data conversion has been a shambles; Mr Mustard's neighbour did not get a council tax bill at all and other people got two of them. Mr Mustard hears that a Court case may be ongoing.

Regular readers will recall the ridiculous number of Hays agency temps that were used for a while. It seems that 50+ temps has caused a budget overspend of more than £250,000 and hardly any temps are now to be used and vacant posts & the top man are to be deleted. Pendulum policy making in action at Barnet Council.

With 97+% of council tax currently being collected this is not a department to mess about with. Mr Mustard will keep a close eye on future developments.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard 

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