Britain's TV licensing work to move to India

Wednesday, 20 December 2006, 06:00 Hrs
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Bristol: A pall of gloom has descended over nearly 200 employees of TV Licensing following news that the bulk of the firm's work to administer the collection of mandatory television license fee will be moved to India in 2007.

A licence is compulsory for the millions of television owners in Britain. A majority of the BBC's funding comes from the license fee, which currently stands at 131.50 pounds every year for a color television set and 44 pounds for a black and white one.

The Bristol-based TV Licensing is responsible for the collection and enforcement of the license, but the majority of its administration licensing is contracted to Capita Business Services Ltd.

Capita, a BPO major, is also responsible for collecting the congestion charge from motorists in London, the Criminal Records Bureau and the teachers' pension scheme. The company plans to move television licensing work to Mumbai in 2007.

The move to India has been approved by the BBC, but has infuriated employees and unions. A strike action is being considered by the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which has also urged the people to stop paying for their licenses by direct debit due to alleged lack of security of personal data in Indian call centers.

The CWU has warned that hundreds of jobs were at risk. It has also launched an advertising campaign urging people to stop paying for their licence by direct debit as a protest against the planned outsourcing to India.

CWU general secretary Billy Hayes said: "This is the outsourcing of another British institution. The outsourcing of the TV licence administration will create unnecessary security fears for the British public and put hundreds of people in Bristol out of work."

CWU spokesman Kevin Slocombe said: "A lot of blue-chip companies are bringing work back to the UK from India because of concerns about security. But Capita is going in the opposite direction".

In a statement, the BBC said: "Capita's decision to move more back-office operations to India was made in the interest of providing the highest possible standards of service and value for money for licence fee payers."

A Capita spokesperson said: "All of our customer details are and will continue to be held in secure IT systems in the UK. There will be no immediate job losses."
Source: IANS
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