Barnet Council Support Services & Adult Social Care staff ‘shock World Cup exit’

For the last two years the Trade Unions have been seeking to ensure that the Future Shape programme is:

1.     The process is open and transparent

2.     There is genuine trade union and staff engagement in delivering an in-house option for the Options Appraisal.

On Wednesday 30 June I attended the first of two ‘Away Days’ being provided for staff delivering services such as Finance, Legal Services, Customers Services, Libraries, Audit, IS, Procurement, Property Services, HR, Pay Roll, Pensions, Revs & Bens. 

The purpose of the meeting was to launch the creation of the New Support Services Future Shape project and to explain the reasons behind it.  The major staffing revelation was that the Council has decided not to include the Option of an in-house bid in the Options Appraisal process. Staff were told that they would be looking to the services of one of the big top 100 FTSE companies e.g. IBM, SERCO, MOUCHEL, CAPITA

Whilst this should not have come as such a shock to staff, hearing officially that the Council would not be giving them the opportunity to compete clearly upset some staff.

More important is on what basis an in-house bid has been ruled out of the Options Appraisals. No data has been produced or provided to the Trade Unions which could demonstrate the rationale for this decision. Last year I sought a meeting with the previous Leader of the Council because of fears that in spite of the Future Shape jargon, what we was seeing was old style privatisation with a 21st century makeover!

The meeting was useful and he provided the following quote:

“Once we get to look at the 'who' it may be that we partner with other organisations to provide a service in a different way.  Equally, it may be that we continue to provide a service because we are the only organisation that can achieve sufficiently high quality at sufficiently low cost.  This is an interpretation the Council does what only the Council can do. Clearly we have many excellent services and we would not embark on unnecessary disruption, but we would be in favour of change if we were confident it would bring significant improvements in quality and value for money”.

which we published last year for the full article click here

The question which remains unanswered for the 700 staff is

“How can the Council be ‘confident’ they can bring in a private sector partner to deliver better value and service improvements if they do not put up an in-house option in the Option Appraisal process?”

This would be a massive contract for the private sector and we along with other Councils have had our fingers burnt by the private sector. If we really have learnt lessons then “why are we ‘shunning’ in-house bids?”

Options Appraisal or Group Stage explained

One of the regular criticisms of Future Shape has been the jargon used. To try and help members understand the process I am using the analogy of World Cup group stage qualification process.

Service Delivery Options

Points scored

In-house team

 

Management Buy Out (MBO)

 

Barnet Homes

 

Local Authority Trading Company (LATC)

 

Joint Venture

 

Private Sector sale

 

Closure of Service

 

 Please note: We have asked the Council, but have had no response as to how many Options go through to the next stage where a Full Business case will be produced (Followers of the real World Cup will know that only the top two go through to the next stage).

MEMBER ALERT: If you do not progress to the next stage you are out. If the in-house option is discarded at this stage staff will be facing the prospect of being transferred out of the Council.

To help understand the process and implications it is often best to see a live example.

Below is a table showing the scores of an

Options Appraisal for the Future Shape Adult Social Care Provision.

Options

Strategic Fit for Transforming Social Care

Deliverability

Acceptability

VFM

Totals

Customer

Council

Staff

Transfer to Barnet Homes

5

5

4

4

3

4

25

LATC

4

4

3

4

3

3

21

Social Enterprise (start-up)

4

3

2

3

3

3

18

Remain In-House

2

3

4

2

3

1

19 15*

Tender/Trade Sale

4

2

2

3

1

2

14

Closure of Service

1

1

1

 

1

1

1

6

* Please note the table sent to the Trade Unions (see above) scored the in-house option 19 but as you can see the total is 15.

The Trade Unions have registered a ‘failure  to agree’ over the Options Appraisal process to council officers and have requested a Corporate Joint Negotiation Consultation Committee with councillors in order we can formally discuss our concerns. The example above has been shrouded in secrecy from the outset once the decision to exclude the Trade Unions was made. We have attempted to engage in the process. We have submitted 46 questions to the Adult Social Care Future Shape Project team and to date we have not had a response.