Future Shape - Is In-House a dirty word?

On Wednesday 10th February I attended the first Future Shape Overview & Scrutiny Committee along with other trade union colleagues and staff working in Planning, Housing and Regeneration (PHR). 

As I listened to the presentation from the Director of PHR it became apparent that we are speaking in different languages.

http://committeepapers.barnet.gov.uk/democracy/meetings/meetingdetail.asp?meetingID=5912

Why do I say that?

Because of the language being used in the meeting. I heard phrases such as Options Appraisals (OA), Options, Business Case (BC) Outline Business Case (OBC) but what do they mean and where do they fit into the process?

This is why the Joint Trade Unions submitted a Draft Corporate Procurement Policy. The Policy would help everyone understand the process. 

So, have staff and the trade unions ‘jumped the gun?’

I don’t think so. 

When the Director of PHR was pushed by councillors about the other Options he responded……

“Yes, we have looked at other models……Salford Urban Vision, this Joint Venture and more recently a management buyout”

I waited…….and waited……..to hear the words all PHR staff wanted to hear ‘and a new improved in house model linked to joint working with other councils’ but it never happened.

No evidence of any work on an in-house Option for Regulatory Services was produced. If this Option is not viable where is the evidence?

I think it is important to be clear that the in-house model we are asking for would not have been the service as is. It would have been a service looking to the future and it would have certainly looked at developing cross borough working with other regulatory services.

What is staggering about the decisions not to put faith in the workforce to come up with a strong in-house option for the Council is that these are services that are providing excellent services some of the best in the region if not the country. They do provide value for money and they are in the top quartile for performance according to Audit Commission.

So why not ask the staff to work up an Option?

It makes no financial or service delivery sense, unless we are dealing with a political dogma that in-house services are bad. I understood we had dealt with this and that each Bundle or Service was going to be given the chance to compete with all the other Options.

On Monday 15th February all PHR staff attended a Future Shape Briefing and were taken through an updated version of the powerpoint presented to the committee last week.

The key question was where is the work on the ‘what about the in-house option?’

staff were referred back to the work of the Transact Group and the reports which went to Cabinet last July

http://committeepapers.barnet.gov.uk/democracy/reports/reportdetail.asp?ReportID=8265

Dallas Theory?

There again……..perhaps I will emerge from my shower tomorrow and all of the above will never happened, we never invaded Iraq, John Smith is the Prime Minister (Tony Blair was never PM!) there is no recession, we don’t know about MPs expenses and Burnley FC are on the top of the Premiership…………..?

Footnote:

Housing Needs and Resources staff I want to draw your attention to slides 13 & 14

“What is ALMO plus?”