back to article Capita's huge role in UK government should go under the spotlight

Capita’s sheer footprint in the public sector makes it an easy target to some extent. If you run enough notoriously failure-prone government contracts, chances are you'll come under some fire sooner or later. Added to the company's woes is a market less lucrative than it used to be. Despite its massive turnover of £4.89bn this …

  1. sebt
    Stop

    On my Christmas list...

    ... is news that Capita has gone bust, and the work it did is being brought back in-house.

    They're a bunch of free-riding benefit-thieves. Rather than getting on their bike and touting for business in the free market, they suck up Government contracts in an inevitable fashion, which they can then run pretty much as they like without scrutiny, backed up by the enforcement power of the state (which they pay nothing for).

    They're hardly the only ones, of course. Any company involved in railways will be on my list too - perhaps next year's birthday list, as both together is perhaps too much of an ask.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: On my Christmas list...

      Add Northgate Arinso to your list.

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Over many years, the BBC intended to replace the legacy ICT systems it uses to support the collection of the licence fee, but it has been unable to do so"

    Maybe they should put more effort into that and less into tweaking iPlayer. OTOH I don't suppose the hipsters tweaking iPlayer would recognise a real business system if they tripped over it.

    1. AdamK

      They tweaked iplayer on the 18 April to kill off the XML program information feeds so now you have to go to one of their increasingly awful websites to find out what's on. Increasingly I don't bother. They are looking for a bail-out on the licence fee collection. They can whinge to the government of the week "look, we did what you want. We gave it all to crapita/poojitsu/Heavy Petting or Bite This" or any other usual suspects.

  3. AdamK

    They have to slip that in before the election. This is the washup of inconvenient for the government reports from select committees. After the election, none of this evidence is worth anything so they start the fun again ready for the election next year.

  4. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    "three million [licence] enforcement visits were carried out in 2015–16"

    Where, FFS? They hassled me by post for the best part of 10 years(*) and I never once had an inspector turn up at my door. 3 million is about 1 household in 9, presuming 1 visit per. I wonder if they only target sink estates?

    (*) I renew by direct debit but I've an odd address their licence checking database system couldn't handle. DB programmers shouldn't presume all addresses look like "123 Letsby Avenue".

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: "three million [licence] enforcement visits were carried out in 2015–16"

      Hassled me for years when I didn't have a license.

      Never visited - I was so looking forward to telling them to get off my drive and never darken my doorway again..

    2. tedleaf

      Re: "three million [licence] enforcement visits were carried out in 2015–16"

      But then the figure is probably not counting repeat visits to the same address,we got nine visits from "enforcement" officers who just would not believe that we didn't watch ANY tv,I knew the law far better than they did and rebuilt/Borges a couple of vhs video machines so that not only did they not have working tv signal tuners,but no tuner system at all,I told them to take one away for their tech dept to look at,I got a snotty letter back admiting that there was no need for a licence to operate them as tape only players but that didn't stop them trying still,we got 2 more visits were we let them in to search and examine equipment and read their own letter,the last arsehole "enforcement" test complained because we did open front door in less than 15 seconds,told him to f off and that if they wanted to make any further visits they had better have police officers with them with a proper court warrant,never heard sweet f a from them after that...

    3. Geoff Campbell
      Mushroom

      Re: "three million [licence] enforcement visits were carried out in 2015–16"

      We had a bunch of visits from them when my Mother-in-law lived with us, as she got a free TV licence we didn't need to pay for one. As it was registered in her name and the house is (obviously) registered in our name, the cretins at Capita couldn't work out that we had a valid licence.

      I didn't help them at all. Every single time:

      <Bing-bong>

      Them: "Mr. Campbell?"

      Me: "Can I help you?"

      Them: "Mr. Campbell?"

      Me: "Can I help you?"

      Them: "Mr. Campbell?"

      Me: "Can I help you?"

      Them: "We do not have any record of a TV licence at this address, would you show us a valid TV licence?"

      Me: "No, I will not."

      Them: "Can we come in and check for an operational TV set?"

      Me: "No, you can not."

      etc., etc., until they leave, threatening legal proceedings, plagues of frogs and boils, the end of civilisation as we know it.

      Unfortunately they called when I was out one day, and the wife showed them the licence. Spoils all my fun, sometimes.

      GJC

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: "three million [licence] enforcement visits were carried out in 2015–16"

        Similarly, my wife lacks my mean streak, and spoilt my fun. When I bought my TV license, I used the name of our house (it's an old Victorian effort, with one of those name plaques) of course the TV licensing database used the house number, and kept sending letters. 'F* them, I said, their problem, we have a license, they haven't checked their data.' But she eventually crumbled and sent them our license number.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "three million [licence] enforcement visits were carried out in 2015–16"

      15 years for me. A letter every three weeks or so, the latest has a custom envelope with two windows! Quite a work of art these things are becoming with their 'approved for enforcement visit' stamps. Then they occasionally switch back to some kind of stay of execution on the enforcement visits, giving me a last minute reprieve so I can buy my license before rescheduling me for a visit again as I have not responded. I'm now regretting not keeping them, it's interesting how they've evolved. Never had one visit. When they do, I'll be happy to let them in for an administrative fee of £50 (which they can claim back from Capita).

  5. nuked
    WTF?

    TV Licenses

    How about just take it from tax in the first place, and save the half-a-billion fee for Capita to administer a separate scheme?

    1. technoise

      Re: TV Licenses

      How about just take it from tax in the first place, and save the half-a-billion fee for Capita to administer a separate scheme?

      Because the telly tax is essentially a household poll tax - a regressive tax where a single unemployed person in a bedsit pays the same as a rich member of the House of Lords living in a castle with a moat. They have managed to take the World Service off general taxation and dumped it into the regressive telly tax as well.

      The elite won't give up a huge pot of money collected from a regressive tax that easily.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: TV Licenses

        I find it interesting that the Brexiteers were trying to impress the public with a promise of and extra £350million and the beeb runs on more than 10 times that.

        Does it really cost so much to run a broadcasting company?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: TV Licenses

          "I find it interesting that the Brexiteers were trying to impress the public with a promise of and extra £350million and the beeb runs on more than 10 times that."

          That was per week. The BBC surely runs on about a quarter of that, annualised.

          1. Chris G Silver badge

            Re: TV Licenses

            Ah, being ex-pat and not very interested I admiit to only reading the Brexit headlines.

        2. gnasher729 Silver badge

          Re: TV Licenses

          "I find it interesting that the Brexiteers were trying to impress the public with a promise of and extra £350million and the beeb runs on more than 10 times that."

          That was £350 million a week. About £18 billion a year. Of course most of that was just lies by Farage and Boris Johnson, the lying bastards. Still, a lot more than the BBC costs.

      2. RichardB

        Re: TV Licenses

        Nearly as bad as that evil pricing strategy at Burger Joints on the high street, where a rich single man with income to spare pays the same for a burger and fries as a poor single mum with 6 children to feed with on a pittance.

        outrage I tell you.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: TV Licenses

      "How about just take it from tax in the first place"

      Do you really want the Beeb completely under HMG's thumb? Because that's just what you're suggesting.

      1. cosmogoblin

        Re: TV Licenses

        As I understand it, that's exactly what already happens.

        The TV license tax mess is ridiculous. The amount is set by the Government, not the BBC. Its applicability (eg no fee for over-75s) is decided by the Government. However, the BBC are legally responsible for collection and enforcement.

        The money goes to HMRC or whatever they're called this week, and gets dumped into general revenue. Then the government decide how much to give to the BBC, and other broadcasters - meaning the BBC front the money to collect, but don't benefit directly from the income. The amount given out to broadcasters is independent of the amount brought in from the tax.

        The license fee has for years been incorrectly and derogatorily called a "tax", mainly by competitors (other broadcasters such as Sky, and other news outlets such as Murdoch's papers), but it was formally reclassified as a tax in 2006 for no other reason than to classify non-payment as tax evasion.

        In the Crown Dependencies (I'm originally from Guernsey), it was legally questionable whether payment was necessary. Now that it's a tax that goes to the UK government, it's almost certainly a breach of some law or other to demand payment. As people have pointed out, it's a regressive tax - just like the poll tax or its rebranded name of council tax.

        And of course, Crapita. Need I say more?

        For the record, I'm very much in favour of the BBC, and I paid my license fee voluntarily for years when iPlayer didn't require it. But the collection has gone from bad (under the BBC) to awful (under Capita). Raise income tax by 1p or whatever; the low-paid get an instant £145 boost to pay, we can sack Capita and let HMRC's collectors sort it all out, saving the BBC a stackload of cash, and there will be no political changes - the BBC will be just as much under the thumb of whoever wins in June as they are now.

        1. EnviableOne Silver badge

          Re: TV Licenses

          or do like they did on alderny and when they try to bring a detector van on the island, they "accidentally" dropped it in the harbour, twice.

          What's wrong with directly funding the BBC through the dpt. of Fun, thats the way C4 is funded.

    3. Coen Dijkgraaf
      Thumb Up

      Re: TV Licenses

      They did away with TV Licenses in July 1999 in New Zealand. And yes, some things now get funded out of taxes via the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. For the most part they get money out of advertisers.

      1. Slackness

        Re: TV Licenses

        Have you suffered Kiwi TV? It's abysmal.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Having been employed by a company taken over by Capita, I can honestly say that they have just as much contempt for their staff as they do for the contracts they somehow manage to win.

    Just before I left, they removed all of the plants from the office I worked in. Too much oxygen in the air apparently.

    1. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
      Devil

      "Just before I left, they removed all of the plants from the office I worked in. Too much oxygen in the air apparently."

      Just before I left, they removed all of the plants from the office I worked in. Too much unpaid for oxygen in the air apparently.

      It's the Crapita way

  7. Dazman515

    I can see it now...

    Capita will be forced to hand over some government contracts and G4S will come swooping in save the day. Further lining the pockets of Teresa Mays husband.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I can see it now...Further lining the pockets of Teresa Mays husband.

      At least we have progress. In the past politicians avoided being too obviously bent by providing opportunities for their wives. Now politics is an equal opportunity offender.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    burgers

    1 rich man 1burger, 1 poor woman six burgers .. six times the consumption/product .

    When do you get your free Tv licence?

  9. Potemkine Silver badge

    Corruption

    Claiming that private companies are more efficient than public sector by design is utter BS.

    Also, is there any big IT services company which does not abuse its workforce and customers? All the ones I know fit in the "bastards!' category.

  10. NonSSL-Login

    People are now aware that using the excuse that they were planning to get a tv licence next week, will incur them court + charges + a tv licence fee.

    They are also aware that the Capita licence goons have no authority to force a conversation or answers from them, so they can happily close the door on their face. If they are feeling the need to be polite, they may say we don't need a tv licence without explaining further.

    Guess which option they are taking....less evaders are caught because less evaders are dropping themselves in shit by admitting it on the doorstep.

    Consumers are more aware of their rights and also know that the tv detector vans are just to scare them too.

    1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      RE : "admitting it on the doorstep."

      Admitting what? If you are not guilty of anything, then anything you say is not an "admission" of anything. However, turn that around and I do agree that (in my experience) Crapita label you as an evader even if like myself you choose to not have a TV licence, and genuinely don't watch TV in any of the forms covered under the license stipulation.

      Every letter I receive from them is ill written, ill advised, and pathetically threatening in nature. Previously all of these went in the bin. Since January however, the 5 letters I have received I have kept as the underpinning of a harrassment case I am slowly building against them. The one doorstep visit I have received from them was hugely rewarding for me and he defintely went away with his powerless little tail between his podgy little legs.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Timing them doorstep to doorstep.

        Got the monthly reminder today. Apparently their enforcement officers can visit an address every 5 seconds. Not sure if that's actual performance, or just the target time set by Crapita. So it may not be kids playing knock down Ginger, but an officer on their way to the next inspection. And the fitness level required to hit the 5 second target, or the 10,101 visits a day may be why Crapita's struggling to recruit.

  11. EnviableOne Silver badge

    CRAPITA

    Having worked with for and against them in the past, they are the bain of public sector existance (i would even rank them above openreach)

  12. Slackness

    Crapita

    I resigned after 6 months, bunch of useless cocks. Went back to contract for my old company.

    Everyone is a director, nobody takes the data protection act or NHS data compliance seriously, nobody will assist you.

    Worst employer I have ever worked for, ethics are for others.

    Pfffffff.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The alternatives are just as bad, the directors leave capita and join a rival. the rivals directors leave and join capita. They are the same everywhere. It isnt just capita, its is all of the IT outsourcing businesses. None of them are any good.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No TV Tax Please

    I let others fund the BBC perverts. I have no wish to do so myself. Make it a subscription service and see how long the Beeb lasts.

    Never let the visiting officers in. They have no right in your home without a warrant. Don't make it easy for the scumbags.

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