County councillors ‘don’t want fingers burnt’ twice as they consider Herefordshire payroll system partnership

editorial image

County councillors said they ‘don’t want their fingers burnt a second time’ as they considered a potential new payroll partnership with Herefordshire Council – over its current marred Serco contract.

Councillors on the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee were given an update on Hereforshire’s contract with Hoople Ltd today (Thursday).

It follows a series of issues with LCC’s current £70 million contract with Serco, which was employed on a five-year contract to deliver IT, finance and HR services, as well as taking over the authority’s customer services centre.

Officers reported how Hoople Ltd, which provides HR and administration services to Herefordshire and other authorities already, had undergone two-and-a-half weeks of workshops and a series of ‘due diligence’ tests.

This involved testing the service with ‘a dozen’ simple and complicated payroll scenarios.

Payroll consultant Jason Davenport said Hoople had created a ‘simple’ system to show their response, adding it ‘came back really solid’.

“They actually helped to reduce the amount of double and triple handling that happens at the moment,” he said.

Out of 37 due diligence tests applied to Hoople, 13 were resulted as ‘green’, 24 ‘amber’ and none ‘red’ on the traffic light warning system applied to risks.

Chairman Rob Parker, however, queried why there were no reds, and asked whether any of the amber risks were close.

Officers said none were of concern at the moment, and that it was expected everything would improve.

However, councillor Parker asked for the amber banding to be expanded, including to show whether they were improving or not.

He said: “We got our fingers burnt last time – but not this time.”

Councillors also requested more information regarding how the recruitment campaign for staff would be handled and the work taking place with partners.

Councillors earlier this week expressed ‘mixed feelings’ over progress by Serco.

Hoople is expected to submit full proposals to the council by July 15.