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Posted on Aug 11 2010
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Liberata, which provides a benefits and council tax service for Barrow Borough Council and other local authorities across the UK, will lose a vital contract when it ends in March next year. For the past 11 years, Liberata has undertaken council tax collection and benefit handling for the London Borough of Southwark.
But in February last year, an executive member of the council said Liberata’s performance has been “weak” and the authority announced it would begin delivering services in-house when the contract ends. Some 80 members of staff at Liberata’s Lakes House call centre in Phoenix Road, Barrow, work on the Southwark contract, sparking fears redundancies could be in the pipeline.
A member of staff at Liberata in Barrow wrote to the Evening Mail about their concerns, signing it: “A soon to be redundant person”. The employee, who did not wish to be named, said: “This could mean a major reduction in staff as this is their core contract in Barrow and the virtual resource side of the company is struggling as they have been outbid on several contracts in the past month.”
But Liberata have strongly denied rumours that redundancies will be made in March. Contract director at Liberata, Phil Thorne, said no jobs would be lost.
He said: “There have been numerous staff meetings at Lake House; although as many as 80 of the 350 Liberata staff in Barrow may work on the Southwark contract at any one time, they have all been reassured that they will not be on the ‘tupe list’ (and transfer employment to Southwark Council in April 2011) and will remain Liberata employees in Barrow.
“There will be no redundancies in Barrow due to this contract coming to its natural end. Liberata continues to secure contract extensions with existing customers and win big and small contracts with new customers.
“We are so confident that we will continue to grow as a business that since April 2010 we have created 40 new jobs in Barrow.” When Liberata won its first contract for Barrow Borough Council in 1994, the firm employed just three people.
In 2006, the firm was awarded a grant of £800,000 from the Northwest Development Agency, on the condition the firm created 200 jobs by the end of 2010.
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