The company delivering IT services on behalf of Lincolnshire County Council has issued a formal apology after a catalogue of errors in paying teachers and other public sector workers.
Private outsourcing company Serco signed a £70 million five-year contract with the county council to deliver back office functions in March 2014.
Serco began its contract from April this year, but the service has been beset by problems, including unpaid bills to suppliers and undersized pay packets for county council employees.
Sean Hanson, Managing Director of Serco’s Local Government business has offered an apology to everyone affected by the introduction of the new IT system in Lincolnshire.
He said: “We know how frustrating this has been and are committed to putting things right.
“We continue to work tirelessly, alongside the county council, to rectify any remaining issues and improve our performance.
“We have boosted our senior management team in Lincoln; recruited additional staff to deal with enquiries; and visited over 100 schools to listen to their concerns and make the changes needed.
“We are making progress and there is a clear plan of action in place. Our stabilisation programme is on track and almost three quarters of the actions completed; the backlog of queries from schools and corporate payroll (up to September 30) has been completed; the number of monthly payroll enquiries has halved; and the backlog of invoices has reduced from over 14,000 to 500.
“We know there is more work to do and we are committed to resolving the outstanding issues and achieving the savings and improvements promised when we signed this contract.”
This admission comes ahead of a full county council meeting on December 18, in which the Labour group has called for a full investigation and public apology from the Conservative-dominated Executive.
Labour county councillors are demanding the introduction of a task force to support local authority schools in their dealings with Serco.
The motion brought forward also requests that schools are properly compensated for the extra costs they have incurred as a result of errors made by the company.
Councillor John Hough, leader of the Labour opposition, said: “On Monday, December 7, Serco issued a statement to the London Stock Exchange with a profits warning in which the chief executive, Rupert Soames, Winston Churchill’s grandson, said that they had achieved a great deal in 2015… and improved the position on several of their largest loss making contracts.
“Our experience in Lincolnshire has been very different from the one described in his statement.
“All Serco has achieved since it started work in Lincolnshire has been to bring about misery and mayhem to thousands of teachers, schools and council employees.”
Lincolnshire County Council did not wish to comment ahead of Friday’s meeting.
Are you experiencing problems with Serco? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]