Civica, which works with a number of authorities, has been criticised for issues, delays, a lack of communication and poor customer service after the council asked it to provide variable payment options for trade waste.
A report to the Governance and Audit Committee describes how the authority’s Trade Waste Service wanted the current payment system to be developed to allow people to pay annually or monthly and through various methods.
The report states the request, made in 2016, was ‘due to the increasing number of customers and the frequent amendment to their requirements’ adding that ‘the administration for invoicing was becoming inefficient’.
It says: “The current system is able to produce all the relevant payment terms however it is unable to process variable monthly direct debits.
“The management of invoices is labour intensive with cancellations and new invoices being raised to ensure accurate billing for changes in requirements.”
An initial £15,000 quote from Civica, was ‘not supported’ as it was not considered value for money.
But in February 2017 a £1,500 ‘low cost’ alternative ‘within the limitations of the system’ was agreed.
After a lack of progress over the next few months though, it was revealed that following a short illness, the consultant working on the project had retired – the council says they had ‘no communication in this regard from Civica’.
They say in their report that in July of last year it was found the work undertaken had ‘not been developed in the correct way’ and Civica said it would not be able to finalise it or support it in the future.
According to WLDC Civica then quoted for 12 consultancy days at a cost of £12,600.
It adds: “The Strategic Finance and Business Manager was therefore insistent that Civica finalise the project at the original cost, due to the issues and delays experienced and the lack of communication and poor customer service we had received.”
Civica agreed to keep the original £1,500 price and has now allocated a new consultant to the project, agreeing to support it in the future.
The authority was due to be told on Tuesday night work had been ongoing since then and the testing phase was almost complete, with the new process working as expected and only one issue to sort before it goes ‘live’ at the end of June, for the July billing cycle.
Civica have been contacted for comment.