AROUND 300 jobs are to be affected as Southampton City Council breaks away from its long-standing services partner.

After a relationship that has lasted more than a decade, civic chiefs have made the decision to cut ties with Capita, which has run the authority’s customer services, HR pay, revenues and benefits, procurement, health and safety, print, post room, and IT services departments since 2007.

This comes after the council expressed a desire to bring these services back in-house.

A spokesperson said: “Over the last 11 years the nature of local government has changed significantly, as has the city and the needs of our customers.

“As a result, members of full council have decided that the time is right to bring the services currently provided by Capita back in-house. This will enable us to continue to improve our customer experiences and to deliver first class, value for money services to the residents and businesses of Southampton.

“Following the decision, the council and Capita will work closely together to develop detailed plans and to ensure a smooth transition. Both partners are committed to minimising uncertainty for staff and to ensure that we continue to deliver high quality services.”

They added: “There are approximately 300 Capita employees directly supporting Southampton Council services who may be affected. Under TUPE regulations, staff who spend the majority of their time on council work will have the right to transfer to the council under their current terms and conditions.”

But, opposition Conservative leader Dan Fitzhenry says the council is making the wrong decision for the city and its residents.

“We’re against this proposal,” he said.

“We do not believe it is the right solution for the city. We’re concerned about the capacity of the council (in taking this amount of work back on).

“We hope this will be a smooth transition, but it is a huge step for the council to take and we do not believe it is the right solution.

“We will have to wait and see what the impact is.

“(If we were in power) we wouldn’t have brought the services back in immediately. We would have looked at all the options and decided what was best, which this is not.”

Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith agrees with his Conservative colleague.

Mr Smith, who was head of the council when the original contract with Capita was signed, said: “In my opinion, by bringing the services back in house, it will cost more.

“When I was leader, if someone could provide a better service in the private sector for a better cost, then we outsourced, and if not, we kept it in house.

“What the council has decided here is to bring it all back in house, without looking at it in the same way.”

But, trade union Unison has welcomed the decision.

A spokesperson said: “Unison welcomes the decision of Southampton City Councillors to bring back in house operations run under the Strategic Services Partnership that have been run by Capita since 2007.

“Unison believes that services are best provided in-house in order to ensure value for money for Southampton tax payers, accountability and the flexibility for the council to respond to changing needs and priorities. We will support our members through the transition process and ensure that the workforce are fully involved in the consultation and design of future services.”

Speaking about the decision, a spokesperson for Capita added: “Capita has partnered with Southampton City Council for more than a decade to deliver a variety of services, and has helped the council to achieve significant annual savings.

“Over time, the needs of the city and its residents have changed leading to this decision. Capita and the council will continue to work closely together to ensure a smooth transition.”