Academic David Bailey has launched a petition to allow the public to see Birmingham City Council’s outsourcing deal with Capita.
The Aston University professor has long been a critic of Service Birmingham, and is calling for the council to publish details of what the council is paying to outsource functions like IT and human resources.
He said there was a precedent for such a move, as the London Borough of Barnet published a redacted Capita contract on its website in September.
Latest accounts show Service Birmingham costs city taxpayers £126 million a year, and racks up £58,000 a day in profits, but its supporters say it is on course to save the city £1 billion by 2016.
The council is currently reviewing its options for the contract, and is thought to be looking for savings of £20 million a year.
Prof Bailey said with a major chunk of council funds going on the contract people should know where it is being spend.
He added: “Serious questions have been asked over the Capita Service Birmingham contract for some time now, with little in the way of real information actually forthcoming from the city council. This petition calls on Birmingham City Council to put the full Service Birmingham contract online and available for public scrutiny. This has happened elsewhere, as in Barnet, with the minimum of redaction.
“The petition is needed so as to ensure greater transparency and openness around the outsourcing of the Service Birmingham contract and therefore enable proper public scrutiny and discussion.
“This crosses party political divides. In principle all public contracts should be available for us to scrutinise. At the moment that is impossible as the Capita Service Birmingham deal is not in the public domain.”
Prof Bailey said the people of Birmingham should also know how much other Capita Group companies get paid by the council outside the Service Birmingham contract, as well. Service Birmingham is a joint venture company between the council and Capita which provides IT support and runs a call centre, although the outsourcing firm has also delivered other individual services.
Among the early signataries of the petition was Conservative councillor for the Sutton Trinity Ward Philip Parkin.
He told the Post: “It’s obviously important that we respect commercial confidentiality but I think that given the huge amount of money that Birmingham City Council spends on this contract it’s only right that as much of it is possible is put in the public domain.
“How can we take a balanced view on cuts to local services if we can’t see the details of such a significant, and expensive, contract?”
Prof Bailey has previously called for the contract to be scrapped, after the Post revealed in October that profits had jumped by 52 per cent.
Prof Bailey, a Post columnist, added: “Given that over ten per cent of the council’s entire controllable budget is now going on this contract, it is of huge importance for discussions over the council budget proposals for 2014.
“Indeed, I’d argue that the only way that the citizens of Birmingham can properly have their say on the budget proposals is for the city leadership to tell them the truth about the Capita Service Birmingham contract, what it actually costs in full, its cancellation provisions, the costs of cancellation, succession provision and succession proposals.”
Amid falling income, the city council is reviewing its relationship with Capita over the Service Birmingham contract and deputy leader Ian Ward has said bringing IT services back in-house was a consideration.
A spokesman for Birmingham City Council said: “As we have previously stated, Birmingham City Council is looking at all the options for the future Service Birmingham agreement.
“However, we would point out that the Barnet example that Professor Bailey continues to cite has significant financial information redacted before publishing.”