back to article London councils seek assurance over Capita's India offshoring plans

London councils with Capita contracts have sought assurances from the outsourcing business that they will not be affected by its plans to offshore jobs to India. According to a letter from Capita to one IT team working for a borough in the capital, half its software engineers have been put at risk of redundancy. Following a …

  1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

    Government policy?

    The simplest way to reduce immigration is to export every job possible, and this would seem to be the policy of the present government.

    A job going to an Indian call centre worker doesn't just displace one British job - there is also the work of supplying the person who previously held the job. It's like the car industry - 2000 jobs go in a car plant but the knock on effect could get rid of at least 5 000 more when the supply chain is taken into account. Then there's the effect on the balance of payments - already a long term British weak spot.

    We have been told we're going to get our "sovereignty" back. It won't count for much when we have an ageing population and fewer and fewer earners while exporting such money as we do make to outsourcers. As Kipling observed over a hundred years ago, "All our pomp of yesterday is one with Nineveh and Tyre."

    1. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Re: Government policy?

      while exporting such money as we do make to outsourcers

      Whilst having a very strong emotional sympathy with the argument you make, it is worth noting that by all credible indicators we have as near full employment as we can probably get (4.7%, ONS using ILO rules), and we will need additional labour to do the rising number of jobs in health and social care, the construction of new schools, homes, hospitals, commercials for our rising population, the incremental labour to clear the 5m homes backlog in the UK (I recently did the sums in my professional capacity, that's what the data shows), then there's big infrastructure plans like Heathrow R3, the circa 11 nuclear reactors BEIS want, HS2, HS3, Crossrail 2, Thames Tideway, billions in water, sewerage, electricity grid programmes, the future roads programme, continued build out of renewable power, the need to restore reserve capacity in electricity generating, and that's without touching other government dreams like the decarbonisation of heat and transport, or the retrofit of insulation and microgeneration across the bulk of the country's 20+m homes.

      Then there's "industrial strategy". If government deliver even some of that there will be a degree of pull back from three decades of government policies that have actively encouraged the offshoring of manufacturing. That means more factories, more factory workers, more logistics and supply chain jobs, more energy and transport needs.

      You rightly identify the severe economic challenge of offshoring (that we're importing too many goods and services and our balance of payments can't support that), there's also the challenge that an ageing population will be somewhat less suitable for the manual and skilled labour tasks described above, but all the above will require white collar and tech supporting jobs. If idiot companies and idiot public sector bodies allow jobs to be offshored, they'll get the standards of service associated with offshore delivery, but I can't help believing that offshoring is a fairly modest problem in the white collar sector.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Far too late

    Once you sign over everything to Crapita, it will end up in India and there will no doubt be some clause in 3pt white on white in the contract that gives them the right to do this.

    It is the ONLY way the likes of Crapita can make money.

    It is also only a matter of time before one of two things happen.

    1) Capita becomes officially an Indian outsourcer like TCS

    2) Someone like TCS or NIIT takes them over.

    1. mr_souter_Working

      Re: Far too late

      not just Capita

      include WiPro and HPE in that as well - anything that can be offshored will be (and some stuff that can't/shouldn't will be going as well)

    2. macjules Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Far too late

      Fantastic news. Only Capita could be starting to outsource jobs to India, just as most other companies are already starting to bring their call centres back into the UK.

      According to a letter from Capita to one IT team working for a borough in the capital

      That would be the crappy (geddit?) Lambeth 'portal' would it? All done in Drupal Views and DisplaySuite with about as much regard for users site security as Capita have for their UK contractors.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    If only councils were alert to their GDPR responsibilities https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/03/21/ico_councils_work_comply_gdpr/

    1. Halfmad

      Being alert is one thing, giving a damn is another. They'll start caring when the first council is hauled over hot coals for breaching it, assuming the ICO actually uses it's new teeth.

  4. wolfetone Silver badge

    How many people could be taken off the dole in the UK or from zero hour contracts and put in to a UK based centre to do Crapita's job?

    How much money would be saved?

    How much money would be generated for the local economies where these centres are based?

    Sometimes it strikes me that the only people who know how to run the country are either driving taxis, cutting hair, or commenting on El Reg articles.

    1. JimC Silver badge

      > taken off the dole

      The trouble is that, real as those savings might be, and great as improvements in the local economy might be, they won't result in a single penny off the Local authority's spending. It would be wonderful to have a government system that was capable of evaluating the big picture to that extent, but I'm not even sure its humanly possible.

      1) if we outsource to Grabitall we'll have another 5million for elderly care next year*

      or

      2) if we don't outsource the cumulative effects on the economy suggest that in ten years time we'll have 1% more council tax income than we will now, and central goverment will gain 6 million a year in reduced social security, increased income tax and other economic activity, none of which they'll pass on to us.

      Unfortunately if you're trying to make the budget balance its not even a hard decision...

      *of course the actual savings will be a fraction of that, but who knew...

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: > taken off the dole

        Oh I know the local authority needs to make savings (obviously authorities are the reason for the bank bailout in 2008, far too money risked on the stock market by those yobs). But there would still be more money in the local economy. So the money HMRC received in increased VAT, NI and general taxes would, in theory, pay for more stuff and less things would have to be cut.

        BUT this idea is based on people in power being fair. Money went to where it was needed, not in to creating another manager/pen pusher role for "efficiency".

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Sometimes it strikes me that the only people who know how to run the country are either driving taxis, cutting hair, or commenting on El Reg articles."

      That's when they're not down the pub.

    3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      "Sometimes it strikes me that the only people who know how to run the country are either driving taxis, cutting hair, or commenting on El Reg articles."

      I comment on El Reg and I cut my own hair - does that mean I qualify for cabinet level or something?

  5. hatti

    Data protection

    Following a review of the business, the outsourcer stated in the missive - seen by us - that "there’s an opportunity to reduce the cost of the function by leveraging offshore capability".

    As well as leveraging potential data loss.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Slight aside ..

    .. did you outsource that article picture of a mug?

    :)

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Slight aside ..

      I don't know where El Reg got the mugs and T-shirts made, but I did buy the T-shirt.

      I've just realised the Cash and Carrion store has disappeared again, I suppose we'll have to wait for it to pop up again. El Reg are worse than Apple for artificial scarcity.

  7. Christoph Silver badge

    This will be hugely beneficial ...

    ... to the scammers in India who will be able to use various tricks to get access to all the council information that will be accessible from there. Identity theft, tricking people into thinking they are from the council as they hold genuine information, fake invoices to the council, much much more.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "the role of System Support Engineers is potentially redundant"

    No technical person wrote that....ever,

    Here, Nero play this violin while i get the fire started!

  9. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    "there’s an opportunity to reduce the cost of the function by leveraging offshore capability" - that the most disingenuous piece of crap I've heard all week. I hate this planet sometimes.

  10. Red Bren

    "Any offshoring plans by Capita do not currently impact Barnet."

    So no one at risk of redundancy lives in or spends money in Barnet?

  11. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    I'm sure the conversations went like this...

    London Councils : Oh, umm, errr, hi Capita... we seek assurance that our IT stuff will be ok?

    Capita : Yeah, it'll be fine, don't worry about it. We're Capita, we take this service stuff seriously.

    London Councils : Oh my, thanks, what a relief. Sorry to have bothered you.

    Capita : No probs LC's, you're still our number one most favourite clients.

    Capita : Mwahahahaha!!!!

  12. Yugguy

    "Hello, my name is Dave."

    No, no it isn't.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: "Hello, my name is Dave."

      You should watch some of Discover Card's Peggy ads. (Peggy was an Eastern European male played a Roumanian-American school teacher.)

      Every time I hear about outsourcing a call center to X I think of Peggy.

  13. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Stop

    "These are senior engineers who have passed the UK government security clearance vetting process"

    "But F it, I have a bunch of guys outside Hyderabad that just got out of school and work for $4 an hour."

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    ...they will not be affected by its plans to offshore jobs to India...

    I believe the correct internet response is LOL, ROFL.

    If you've never seen coding by India's finest, you owe it to yourself to take a look... from a suitable distance. It's either hilarious or horrifying depending on whether it's an enemy or a friend of yours that has to clear up the mess.

    This will not end well.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ...they will not be affected by its plans to offshore jobs to India...

      Definitely.... Java is verbose, Indian written Java is positively biblical in it's excessive length and often contradiction.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ...they will not be affected by its plans to offshore jobs to India...

        yes I think the mindset is make the code as verbose and complex as possible - because that's far more impressive..... of course producing short, simple and elegant code takes far more time and effort, but looks like you spent less, which doesn't sit well with them.

        1. HieronymusBloggs Silver badge

          Re: ...they will not be affected by its plans to offshore jobs to India...

          "the mindset is make the code as verbose and complex as possible - because that's far more impressive..... "

          ...and more lucrative, if you're paid by lines of code.

    2. colinb

      Re: ...they will not be affected by its plans to offshore jobs to India...

      Well luckily for us the coding quality is abysmal but the main issue is getting code that actually works matching any written specs.

      One company i know was forced to do an Access prototype with all UI logic in VBA, finance calcs in SQL, the idea was the Indian coders would copy the UI and leave the SQL alone.

      They gave up and put the Access app into Production. Its happily crunching millions of $ as we speak.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ...they will not be affected by its plans to offshore jobs to India...

      I think the phrase 'cargo cult programming' comes to mind.

      one of our primary LOB applications is a monstrous, baroque, eldritch horror; we had a database consultant come in a couple years ago (for a ridiculous amount of money, probably) to look at performance problems we had with it. Their response was along the lines of 'it started out with an adequate design, but has been mutated, mutilated, and mangled to the point where it should be thrown out and re-built from scratch.'

      anon to protect my paycheck.

    4. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Re: ...they will not be affected by its plans to offshore jobs to India...

      I had extremely good and extremely bad indian work colleagues in the past.

      The thing is how many hours theybhave to work, how much are they paid and if they are valued on volume or quality.

      So it is the same as chinese manufacturing quality. They can both produce good quality stuff, but you would have to pay for that..and the outsourcing is done in pirely economic terms, so crap quality.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vetting for a local authority? Bollocks, they'll be DBS checked.

  16. nematoad Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Who cares?

    Look, Capita already knows that its reputation is shit so any comeback about the quality of service provided by off-shore workers will be as water off a duck's back.

    "Customer satisfaction? We've heard about that."

  17. adam payne Silver badge

    "However, Capita and a number of councils have claimed they do not expect the current plans to affect services."

    It will of course increase the number of people in job seekers but they can manage that statistic quite easily.

    How good is the security vetting in India?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "However, Capita and a number of councils have claimed they do not expect the current plans to affect services."

      Maybe that's an admission that the service is already broken and can't get any worse?

  18. Anonymous Cowerd
    Coat

    They stay over there...

    taking our jobs...

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: They stay over there...

      Exactly. Whereas if they come over here and work they pay taxes, rent, buy things in local shops...the local Polish shop is paying business rates. The money goes around. And around. The magic thing about money and services is that it can be spent several times over before it has to purchase a commodity or service a debt, and stops.

      What we have never really had in this country is a government which is prepared to spend money to make immigration work. The difference between us and Germany (and the US for that matter) is that UK plc is always trying to do things on the cheap and cut corners. Successful countries like Germany, Switzerland and the US tend to do things properly. It costs more but creates a virtuous economic cycle. We have had to rely on companies like Nissan, Honda, Sony and BMW to demonstrate how things should be done. And now, big sigh, May is more or less telling them to piss off to keep Jacob Rees-Mogg's nanny happy.

  19. lukewarmdog

    Claims

    I often claim things are completely untrue because it suits me at the time.

    Councils claiming they won't be affected is a nice soundbite but nothing more.

    "to the best of our knowledge, this will not affect services" said somebody at the council who is purposefully kept in the dark so they can say that with a straight face.

  20. sebt

    Crapita

    "We need to focus on our core business to achieve business plan and bring the business back into a profit…"

    Written, like most corporate missives, by someone with the part of their brain that deals with clear use of language surgically removed. I love "achieve business plan": the omission of "the" is obviously intended to give the impression of clipped, efficient meeting-speak, but actually comes across as something not a million miles away from "I am a complete lying moron".

    And all this "focus" (meaning "you're redundant") casts a rather unforgiving light on what the "core business" being focused on actually consists of. My guess is : sucking as hard as possible on the government teat while delivering and paying employees as little as possible. Lobbying expenditure to bake this situation irremovably into the constitutional structure of the UK is just an unfortunate cost of doing business.

    When can we "offshore" Capita, preferably into deep space, without a spacesuit?

    1. Lars Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Crapita

      "We need to focus on our core business to achieve business plan and bring the business back into a profit…"

      Could be worse, "Need focus core business plan to profit", or perhaps better.

  21. Walter Bishop Silver badge
    IT Angle

    Leveraging offshore capability

    "there’s an opportunity to reduce the cost of the function by leveraging offshore capability"

    Translated into Engspeak, India telephone tech support are cheaper than the UK equivalent. "The lucky ones .. will earn as much as 20,000 rupees per month — around $2 per hour", that's GB£1.60 in 2011 ..

    1. JimC Silver badge

      Re: Leveraging offshore capability

      Maybe companies should, in the interests of globalisation and fairness, be required to pay a British living wage to employees in India working on British systems...

  22. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    council: pls reassure us re your plans to offshore to India

    capita: you can be like totes reassured

    council: as you were

    [enter clusterfuck on stilts, pursued by angry mob waving scythes]

    angry mob: you useless twats

    council: but capita reassured us they had policies and procedures implementing processes ...

    [angry mob falls into 100 year slumber]

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