TWO councils will pull out of parts of an outsourcing deal designed to save up to £18m – but said they don't know how much it will cost them to do so.

When South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils signed a contract with three other local authorities in February 2016, they heralded it as ‘ground-breaking’.

But they will end their contract with VINCI, which provides facilities management and property services, and bring services back in-house. They will also change other parts of another contract with Capita, which provides HR, IT and finance services.

Just under two years ago both contracts were expected to last for nine years.

Councillors of both authorities backed the changes behind closed doors last month.

That decision came just months after they agreed in private to a hushed-up £180,000 pay-off for their former chief executive, David Hill, before threatening the Oxford Mail with legal action if it reported it.

It is understood about 50 former council staff who were employed by VINCI as part of that contract will be moved back into the councils – but a member of staff said they have yet to be told when.

The two local authorities said new agreements are being negotiated and are commercially sensitive.

But the member of staff claimed senior managers at the councils were ‘running round in circles with no idea what to do next’.

They told the Oxford Mail: “As you would expect we all have many questions but no one has any answers. No news has been filtered out to any staff.”

They added: “There is talk it could take six months (to end the VINCI deal) or it could end in April.

"No one has mentioned the termination fees yet. It sounds like they are all running round in circles with no idea what to do next.

“(The councils) seem to be withdrawing from the contract in the same way they went into it: ill-informed and in chaos.”

The remaining three authorities involved in the Five Counties Partnership with South and Vale are Hart District Council, Havant Borough Council and Mendip District Council.

It is thought contracts with VINCI and Capita with those councils started last year.

A spokesman for South and Vale district councils, Andy Roberts, said: “We have mutually agreed with Capita to redesign some of the services they provide under the Five Councils Partnership.

"This is to meet the councils' strategic needs, which have evolved over time since the contract was sourced.

"At both the South and Vale full council meetings it was agreed that the councils will exit their contract with VINCI and begin the process of moving services back in-house.

“These changes will ensure that each council continues to be cost effective and provide the right services to meet the changing needs of residents, businesses and visitors.”