Council farms out entire HR function

Blackburn with Darwen Council has become the first local authority to
outsource its HR director and its strategic HR team.

The groundbreaking initiative, which will see a total of 89 HR employees transferring
to outsourcing specialist Capita under the Tupe regulations by April 2002, was
signed earlier this year. The council’s personnel director John Connolly has
only recently taken up his outsourced role.

The council’s team, which is now based at Capita’s new business centre, is
one of seven functions including property management and financial services
being transferred in a service deal worth £327m over 15 years.

Connolly, who is still director of personnel for the council even though he
is employed by Capita, believes he now has more control over delivering HR
strategy.

He said the move has centralised the council’s HR function, which was
previously spread across different service departments.

Connolly explained, "I am providing strategic advice just as I was
before. The difference is I have management responsibility for all HR staff and
therefore have more control over the delivery of policy and strategy.

He said if the strategic HR team had stayed within the council while other
services were being outsourced, the reduction in their customer base could have
meant HR employees losing their jobs

"If I want to keep them together and provide a more comprehensive
service to the council, I ca do that better through the partnership," said
Connolly.

Terry Gorman, immediate past president of Socpo, is concerned that
outsourcing strategic HR could be a step too far for local government.

‘I think personnel has many different elements and some, such as payroll,
advertising, recruitment and occupational health, are susceptible to
partnership with private companies. But taking on core strategic personnel
activities is an unproven situation," he said.

By Lisa Bratby

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