People’s Audit – Six
CONTRACT MANAGEMENT: “ONCE AGAIN THE INFORMATION COMMISSIONER ORDERED LAMBETH TO SEND COPIES OF WRITTEN INSTRUCTIONS BUT LAMBETH HAVE DECLINED TO DO SO. “WE CONCLUDE THAT THE INSTRUCTIONS NEVER EXISTED AND THAT LAMBETH PAID FOR WORK WHICH WAS NOT INSTRUCTED.”
We found several examples of severe deficiencies in the way that Lambeth manages its contracts.
This concern was confirmed by Lambeth’s governance statement which stated that the contracts for mechanical and electrical repair works were “high risk” and that “We found significant deficiencies in the control framework for key areas of the housing management function such as health and safety, and service charges and mechanical and engineering uplift contracts.”
We also saw examples of tenders where it is quite clear that nobody from Lambeth or its consultants have queried contractors’ prices or questioned whether they are value for money.
In the case of one estate, we discovered that Lambeth had changed the whole basis of the contract after the contract award, which is a breach of generally accepted contract principles.
Furthermore we found that variations to the contract scope had been paid without corresponding written instructions.
We asked for copies of the instructions from Lambeth for months both directly and via the Information Commissioner.
Once again the Information Commissioner ordered Lambeth to send us the instructions but Lambeth have declined to do so. We conclude, therefore, that the instructions never existed and that Lambeth have paid for work which was not instructed.
If the instructions did exist they would no doubt have been referenced in the final account.
Worryingly, rust is already starting to appear through the decorations carried out by contractors on one estate, less than a year after the works were carried out.
Residents on other estates can attest to similar issues, which brings into question what monitoring regimes Lambeth have in place.
It would appear that some of our concerns are shared by someone in Lambeth as we discovered that Lambeth have commissioned a consultant to carry out a forensic audit, costing £60,000, of its contracts with this company.
When initially queried about this investigation Lambeth’s first response was to deny that any information on this existed. (Source: Lambeth Peoples’ Audit report).