Barnet “Supporting the venerable…sorry the vulnerable”

“Supporting the venerable vulnerable”

Dear members  

I have just finished a month on placement with social work teams across Adults & Children’s services. I was planning on jetting off for a holiday, and try and take things easy when this happened last Friday. I was suddenly bombarded by numerous text messages & emails asking if I had seen the Guardian article. I am not a regular reader, so had to go out and purchase a copy, and what did I find but a Four Page article in a National newspaper. There was also the online version which was quickly spreading to other links to other political commentators. 

The “Easy Council” quip alongside comparisions with Easy Jet & Ryan Air have proved eye catching and have whipped up a media frenzy and comments from the public.  

The political commentators are already saying that Barnet is the test ground for a future Cameron government, interesting to note a quote from a senior conservative figure on Friday

“This is not seen as a blueprint. Barnet have gone their way and that’s fine but there is no wider significance as far as David is concerned,” said a senior Tory source. 

Not that this says anything, it could be that they are simply waiting to see what happens in Barnet. 

For staff working hard in Barnet it must be confusing & disturbing to feel part of an experiment without having any say. If this is an experiment then we should have been told.  

One of the more alarming quotes was from a councillor who when I last checked does not have a brief for adult services but is quoted as saying  

With council tenants, and I’ll admit I am putting it crudely it has been a lot of ‘my arse needs wiping, and somebody from the council can come and do it for me.’ That attitude is dying out now.” 

When I read that statement after picking myself off the floor, I went to have a look at Fair Access to Care Services (FACS) to check the criteria yourself.  

Public Sector wasting money

What…..we have been making year on year savings (in Barnet almost £80 million in last six years!). Let’s get this right, we are in a recession, not because of public sector failure but because of private sector failure and what is worse our government sat by and let it happen for fear of making an enemy of the City! 

The ink is not even dry on the £Billions of public money being poured into the banks and already there are debates about whether there should be bonuses!  

It really makes me quite angry at the hypocrisy coming out of the national media to public services, in particular the Pension issue. It is not our Pensions that created the recession and to call a £4,000 pension gold plated is diabolical.  

There are around 4 million voters working in public sector, I wonder who they will be voting for because it seems all three mainstream parties are looking to cut their job, pensions and pay! 

Why not rename the Refuse service to the Landfill Service ?

One of the comments in the article refers to the smaller bins, but most members of the public know this will see an escalation in fly tipping. The question is the right one i.e. how do we reduce the amount of landfill? The solution is not going to be easy as providing catchy sound bites. Residents need to hear the truth about the landfill tax which is hanging over the heads of Councils. In Barnet we are being told that if we continue collecting the same amount of refuse in 5 –10 years time we will be taxed so heavily that it could bankrupt the council. One of the implications could be that we would have to raise Council Tax, but this is politically impossible, instead the public attention is directed to scare stories about Ryan Air/Easy Jet.   

Queue jumping!

Not popular in the UK but something introduced in the article. The idea that if you have the money you can pay for a better service has quite understandably provoked outrage as this is being seen as looking after the rich and leaving the rest to a second class service. It is only a few week ago when the public reacted with anger and disbelief at the Americans fear of our NHS. Incredible isn’t it, but they seem to think it is ok that 50 million of their citizens do not have access to health care and another group who do have healthcare are frightened that if they are ill the healthcare organisation may deny them access to the medical aid. If anyone out there thinks that is what should happen to public services in the UK, then let me know I am sure we can organise a cheap ticket, one way ticket to the USA! 

One of the three aims of future shape was “a different relationship with citizens”, it is hard to believe that creating two tier public services is what this aim was seeking to address.  

BNP & Council Housing  

This is the party that exploits the break up of public services. A good example is Council Housing. The break up of Council housing has been both financial madness but has not met the needs of communities. There was a time when we had well built council housing which gave working people access to quality, low cost housing. For our Future Shapists out there looking at disadvantaged families take a good look at the housing opportunities for those families and the services available to them. The break up of council housing has created ghettoes, housing stock has reduced due to right to buy that only those in most need are able to access this service. Councils are putting problems families alongside vulnerable adults & their families, no wonder our sheltered housing residents are petrified at the thought of their warden leaving the service. 


It is well documented that the BNP does well where access to services is seen to be restricted to a few. Any policy that will increase disadvantage and deny access to public services must be opposed.  

If the Future Shapist’s lobby within the Council are genuinely interesting in making early interventions and preventing dependency on public services then surely they need to start by looking at the environment we are creating for our residents.