Hoople takes £1.2m cuts hit

Ledbury Reporter: The council has confirmed its intention to save £1.2m on back office services provided by joint venture company Hoople. The council has confirmed its intention to save £1.2m on back office services provided by joint venture company Hoople.

THE company set up to save Herefordshire Council £33 million over 10 years faces a cuts hit of its own.

This morning (Friday), the council confirmed its intention to save £1.2m on back office services provided by joint venture company Hoople.

In a joint statement, the council and Hoople say they have reached agreement to achieve "substantial savings" by focusing on essential back office support and efficiency improvements across all services currently provided by Hoople.

As part of the savings process, Hoople has actively been involved in seeking a mutually agreeable variation to its current contract with the council.

Mike Dearing, Hoople MD said the confirmation of the council contract for 2014/15 gave the company "revenue certainty" to continue providing services and expanding its customer base.

"Whilst delivering these savings will be a challenge, I am pleased to be able to continue to support the council in its aim to deliver value for money services," he said.

Councillor Philip Price, council cabinet member for infrastructure, said cuts to back office services protected priority services.

“Whilst this will unfortunately have an impact on Hoople and council employees, I would like to thank the Hoople board and management team for their continued support and positive committed approach to helping us deliver the savings necessary,” he said.

Earlier last year, the Hereford Times reported Hoople as being in talks with the council as to how it could audit areas of its operation for itself, rather than have those audits conducted for, and reported to, the council.

The council’s audit and governance committee was told that such changes would reflect the “distinct organisational status” of Hoople and may lead to the removal of certain audits from the council’s audit plan.

Instead, the work would be performed as part of Hoople’s own internal audit arrangements, with the council willing to accept assurances from the company over the operation of controls.

Set up in 2011 in the form of a joint venture company, Hoople, with the council as a 65 per cent shareholder, took on what was previously known as the shared services partnership (SSP) and its 10-year £33m savings target which the then council chief executive Chris Bull told cabinet had already been deleted from the council’s budget plans.

Hoople provides financial, IT and other back-office services on behalf of the council. Since formation, Hoople has delivered some £3m in savings to shareholders.

The scope of services Hoople provides to the council currently covers human resources and training; finance, revenues and benefits; information technology (IT) and transformation project management.

Transactions between the council and Hoople totalled £9.29m over the 2012-13 financial year, down from £9.37m in 2011-12.

Comments (7)

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12:04pm Fri 24 Jan 14

saidflo says...

Interesting subject but not enough actual clarity and transparency regarding actual cuts and Hoople's performance since 2011. £3 million savings in 2 years indicates they are 50% behind their target of £33m in 10 years. Did the negotiators of this cut of £1.2 million ask Hoople? Back office savings could mean anything.
A main part of that negotiation appears to have been concerned with checks and controls on Hoople. In future they are to be done by Hoople themselves. Anyone think that is a good idea? Boundaries between Hoople and the Council itself appear to be very fuzzy already. A "joint venture company" is a not so subtle way to avoid healthy direct scrutiny.
I'd prefer to read -
"Hoople's contract has been renegotiated, managers are implementing efficiency measures accross the board. All Hoople employees have taken a small pay and expenses cut; higher paid employees have taken a much larger paycut. Hoople, as a company, mainly council controlled, not charged with safeguarding vulnerable people, ALL therefore want to ensure struggling rural Herefordshire had the best chance possible at recovery in this recession."
Free country - I can dream!
Interesting subject but not enough actual clarity and transparency regarding actual cuts and Hoople's performance since 2011. £3 million savings in 2 years indicates they are 50% behind their target of £33m in 10 years. Did the negotiators of this cut of £1.2 million ask Hoople? Back office savings could mean anything. A main part of that negotiation appears to have been concerned with checks and controls on Hoople. In future they are to be done by Hoople themselves. Anyone think that is a good idea? Boundaries between Hoople and the Council itself appear to be very fuzzy already. A "joint venture company" is a not so subtle way to avoid healthy direct scrutiny. I'd prefer to read - "Hoople's contract has been renegotiated, managers are implementing efficiency measures accross the board. All Hoople employees have taken a small pay and expenses cut; higher paid employees have taken a much larger paycut. Hoople, as a company, mainly council controlled, not charged with safeguarding vulnerable people, ALL therefore want to ensure struggling rural Herefordshire had the best chance possible at recovery in this recession." Free country - I can dream! saidflo
  • Score: 11

12:17pm Fri 24 Jan 14

bobby47 says...

And still they continue to feed this beast called Hoople. Well, if I had any say in it and they suddenly plucked me from obscurity and said, 'you do the bloody feeding', I'd give them nothing. Not a scrap. Not one single crumpled five pound bloody note. They'd get nothing from me. In fact, just so they were absolutely clear about their future, I'd remove the trough. I'd pull it out and tell them, 'I'm a mean and heartless feeder. Clear off and leave us be. You'll get no compassion from me'.
This Council have got to go. Special Measures! That's what's needed. Put them in Special Measures and ignore their cries of, 'we are saving you millions and creating a thousand jobs'.
Only bloody recently after the hierarchy culled a load of front line low paid jobs, they carried out a reorganisation programme that resulted in dozens of these 'suits' rising from 8 to 10 on their pay scale. They all got huge pay rises. It's madness! We are talking about huge wage rises brought about by a culture of greed, self promotion and an arrogance that displays contempt toward us, the ones who feed this bureaucratic collusus that devours our money as we sit back and watch.
As for Hoople, cut the bloody cord, set it adrift and let it drown. I say, 'be gone and leave us be. I don't want your version of 33 million pounds in savings'.
And still they continue to feed this beast called Hoople. Well, if I had any say in it and they suddenly plucked me from obscurity and said, 'you do the bloody feeding', I'd give them nothing. Not a scrap. Not one single crumpled five pound bloody note. They'd get nothing from me. In fact, just so they were absolutely clear about their future, I'd remove the trough. I'd pull it out and tell them, 'I'm a mean and heartless feeder. Clear off and leave us be. You'll get no compassion from me'. This Council have got to go. Special Measures! That's what's needed. Put them in Special Measures and ignore their cries of, 'we are saving you millions and creating a thousand jobs'. Only bloody recently after the hierarchy culled a load of front line low paid jobs, they carried out a reorganisation programme that resulted in dozens of these 'suits' rising from 8 to 10 on their pay scale. They all got huge pay rises. It's madness! We are talking about huge wage rises brought about by a culture of greed, self promotion and an arrogance that displays contempt toward us, the ones who feed this bureaucratic collusus that devours our money as we sit back and watch. As for Hoople, cut the bloody cord, set it adrift and let it drown. I say, 'be gone and leave us be. I don't want your version of 33 million pounds in savings'. bobby47
  • Score: 14

6:17pm Fri 24 Jan 14

silashayes says...

Herefordshire Council are responsible for protection of our money and assets. It is absolute madness to hand over the audit process to what is essentially an external Company. The Council have no audit process in place for checking the work completed by Balfour Beatty. To clarify let me explain the process.
I ring the Council and report a pothole
The Customer Service Department take the details and send them to Balfour Beatty.
Balfour then add the work to a schedule for inspection and schedule a repair
Weeks later I call the Council to complain the pothole hasn't been repaired and request an update.
The Council can't advise me because they don't get any updates from Balfour.
My call is what alerts the Council to the service failure and should provide a mechanism for Herefordshire Council to bring the Company to task. You only have to look at the state of our roads to see that no one is auditing exactly what is going on here. When I called recently I was told the request I made for repair on a pothole was closed which indicated the work had been completed!
I guarantee you it hadn't! I also guarantee Hoople are no different!
Herefordshire Council are responsible for protection of our money and assets. It is absolute madness to hand over the audit process to what is essentially an external Company. The Council have no audit process in place for checking the work completed by Balfour Beatty. To clarify let me explain the process. I ring the Council and report a pothole The Customer Service Department take the details and send them to Balfour Beatty. Balfour then add the work to a schedule for inspection and schedule a repair Weeks later I call the Council to complain the pothole hasn't been repaired and request an update. The Council can't advise me because they don't get any updates from Balfour. My call is what alerts the Council to the service failure and should provide a mechanism for Herefordshire Council to bring the Company to task. You only have to look at the state of our roads to see that no one is auditing exactly what is going on here. When I called recently I was told the request I made for repair on a pothole was closed which indicated the work had been completed! I guarantee you it hadn't! I also guarantee Hoople are no different! silashayes
  • Score: 10

7:52pm Fri 24 Jan 14

TwoWheelsGood says...

Hoople have the whole of one floor at Plough Lane HQ - some 160 work stations. They also have part of Franklin Barnes. Both buildings owned by the Council - are these tenants paying a market rent and if not why not? I asked a Councillor yesterday, who had no idea, in fact it hadn't even occurred to the Councillor that this situation existed. We're being royally shafted by these outsourcing arrangements and those responsible will not do anything about it.

silashayes' comments above about Balfour are horrifying, but its plain to sees BB are doing next to nothing for their £1.66m a month. The council are now even having to borrow £20m to give them to get them started!
Hoople have the whole of one floor at Plough Lane HQ - some 160 work stations. They also have part of Franklin Barnes. Both buildings owned by the Council - are these tenants paying a market rent and if not why not? I asked a Councillor yesterday, who had no idea, in fact it hadn't even occurred to the Councillor that this situation existed. We're being royally shafted by these outsourcing arrangements and those responsible will not do anything about it. silashayes' comments above about Balfour are horrifying, but its plain to sees BB are doing next to nothing for their £1.66m a month. The council are now even having to borrow £20m to give them to get them started! TwoWheelsGood
  • Score: 11

9:47am Sat 25 Jan 14

silashayes says...

I thought Balfour Beatty had to invest 20 million in our Highways I might have that figure wrong but I am sure I read there was to be some type of investment by Balfour as part of the Contract.

Hoople have offices in the town hall and they will be moving to plough lane. I believe they are taking over the whole of the top floor. I think they did have staff in Franklin Barns but they recently left and went back to the town hall. The Council are going to refurbish the Broad street Library and move Franklin staff there. The refurbishment will cost thousands, the building is listed and has a string of covenants that will make this extremely expensive.

It's easy to check my comments about Balfour Beatty just ring the Council and report your nearest pothole (you won't have to look far to find one) Wait a week and call back ask the following questions .

When was the pothole I reported inspected?
When will the repair be completed?
Herefordshire Council will not be able to provide you with an answer because they don't know. Who would pay millions of pounds to a company and never check you were getting what you paid for? It's utter madness!
I thought Balfour Beatty had to invest 20 million in our Highways I might have that figure wrong but I am sure I read there was to be some type of investment by Balfour as part of the Contract. Hoople have offices in the town hall and they will be moving to plough lane. I believe they are taking over the whole of the top floor. I think they did have staff in Franklin Barns but they recently left and went back to the town hall. The Council are going to refurbish the Broad street Library and move Franklin staff there. The refurbishment will cost thousands, the building is listed and has a string of covenants that will make this extremely expensive. It's easy to check my comments about Balfour Beatty just ring the Council and report your nearest pothole (you won't have to look far to find one) Wait a week and call back ask the following questions . When was the pothole I reported inspected? When will the repair be completed? Herefordshire Council will not be able to provide you with an answer because they don't know. Who would pay millions of pounds to a company and never check you were getting what you paid for? It's utter madness! silashayes
  • Score: 9

2:52pm Sat 25 Jan 14

dippyhippy says...

Hi Silas, what Two Wheels says is absolutely correct - we all were fed the line that this 20 million was "new" money to be invested, but no, this simply isn't true. We the tax payer, will end up paying. The irony shouldn't be lost on any of us.

As for your question "Who would pay millions of pounds to a company and never check you were getting what you paid for?"
The answer is easy peasy - Herefordshire Council - HereYouCan waste millions, and never be called to account.
Hi Silas, what Two Wheels says is absolutely correct - we all were fed the line that this 20 million was "new" money to be invested, but no, this simply isn't true. We the tax payer, will end up paying. The irony shouldn't be lost on any of us. As for your question "Who would pay millions of pounds to a company and never check you were getting what you paid for?" The answer is easy peasy - Herefordshire Council - HereYouCan waste millions, and never be called to account. dippyhippy
  • Score: 8

9:52am Sun 26 Jan 14

silashayes says...

The Council should insist that Balfour provide evidence of all work scheduled, completed or outstanding. They should then check that list against reports coming in. If anything on the completed list is reported we have a serious issue.... easy peesy ? It's not Rocket Science. I have not seen any permanent repairs on potholes only botched up jobs. I remember a time when under the old system when Highways was in house the Belmont Road was resurfaced almost on a yearly basis. I wonder how many roads have been resurfaced since Highways went private?
The Council should insist that Balfour provide evidence of all work scheduled, completed or outstanding. They should then check that list against reports coming in. If anything on the completed list is reported we have a serious issue.... easy peesy ? It's not Rocket Science. I have not seen any permanent repairs on potholes only botched up jobs. I remember a time when under the old system when Highways was in house the Belmont Road was resurfaced almost on a yearly basis. I wonder how many roads have been resurfaced since Highways went private? silashayes
  • Score: 3

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