Essex County Council

Safe exit from a failing strategic service provider

Project Outcomes:

  • Safe transition to in-house service provision
  • Case studies developed of where managed service had failed in its expectations
  • Liabilities to Council for early contract termination written off and return of substantial sum due to poor service; both parties’ reputations remained intact
  • Contributed significant 7 figure direct saving to ECC

“For some time one of our strategic service providers, who was responsible for a council-wide service, had been providing a very substandard service. It was taking staff up to 10-20 times longer to perform basic functions than it should have been. We tried over several years to work closely with the provider to improve its service delivery, but without material success. Finally, it was decided to terminate the agreement. Naturally, we realised there may be challenges for us in doing this, therefore, before taking action we decided to seek expert legal guidance. The legal guidance we received from external sources was very helpful. However, the process in articulating the relevant information for the purposes of a commercial settlement seemed to be taking a significant amount of time. We decided that we needed some assistance to help bring a clear focus and direction to achieving a settlement.

I knew of BPG from my previous work with Westminster City Council, where they had successfully handled a similar situation. BPG began with us by undertaking a ‘health check’ of the service being provided. This outlined what constitutes a strong business led service – and then independently verifying whether these aspects were being appropriately delivered by our strategic partner. After the health check, we instructed BPG to review appropriate evidence of the service and they concluded that very fundamental and key aspects had not been delivered appropriately. BPG worked closely with our existing internal and external legal advisors and our internal and external technical and service delivery teams so they could get up to speed quickly. The main problem identified was that the contractor had lost focus and was inadequately staffed with poorly-skilled personnel.

Although the legal case had been running for 15 months prior to the involvement of BPG, within 90 days of being instructed to review the appropriate evidence (with the Christmas period in between), BPG provided the focus to enable the Council to achieve a very favourable financial settlement, saving us many millions of pounds in both legal and other fees/costs.

Whilst the exit from the current strategic service provider was being negotiated we took the service back in-house – a decision that saved us £7 million over the year and provided the Council with a superior service. Now we are working with new strategic partners to implement a far-reaching modernisation programme that involves process re-engineering, estate modernisation and cultural change management. BPG has helped enormously in every aspect of this as well, from advising on procurement to ensuring the new service contract is fit for purpose.”

Nick Bell, Deputy CEO