Beware the “Ides of March” One Barnet Social Care Experiment is not working

Barnet UNISON Press Release: 1 March 2013 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Beware of the “Ides of March” – The One Barnet Social Care Experiment is not working!

Today approximately 170 staff will be presented with a redundancy consultation document (to view click here ) which contains within it the most draconian attack on low paid social care workers since the infamous Fremantle Care workers dispute. The Council Cabinet Committee back in May 2011 agreed to create a Local Authority Trading Company (LATC) named ‘Your Choice’. The transfer of staff to the LATC ‘Your Choice’ took place on 1 February 2012.  At the time the Council website issued the following statement:

“Your Choice Barnet is projected to start delivering a surplus to the council from 2013/14. The surplus is projected to reach £263,000 by 2014/15 and £493,000 by 2015/16.”

Today staff are to be informed that Barnet Homes are having to ‘bail out’ Your Choice with a loan of £1million in order to prevent Barnet Group defaulting on the contract with Barnet Council. The projected surplus figures quoted are clearly not going to materialise.

Last year UNISON submitted several reports on the proposal to create a LATC.  

“The options appraisals and business cases for Adult Services and the Housing Service and the business plan for the LATC have serious weaknesses and the process has been deeply flawed. They Council should not be making decisions on the future of services and public assets based on such poor information, analysis and advice.” (UNISON January 2012)

The proposals contained within the consultation document issued to staff and the trade unions today if implemented will see care worker terms and conditions slashed dramatically. This sends a message to potential new recruits to care work that these jobs are valued less than a shelf stacker in the local supermarket. One of the proposals is to reduce the number of waking night staff.

“For continence issues, those who require changing in the night do not require the use of hoists as they are already in bed.” (Paragraph 4.3).

It takes two staff to safely use a hoist, the implications if the above cut is implemented is that if a service user is incontinent during the night they will have to wait until the morning before they can be helped.

These proposals in our view are de-skilling and reducing management oversight and support at a time when the focus post Francis inquiry is on need for better trained and skilled staff and more supervision.

A ‘Your Choice Care worker said:

“There is a sinister undertow to these proposals. The people who will lose out as always are the vulnerable service users who take second place in what is now a business not care provision”

John Burgess, Branch Secretary said:

“The proposals including within this report are quite frankly unacceptable. The recent decision to outsource back office services to Capita has led to a series of statements from the Council.

we will have £120 million to spend on public services in Barnet which we would not otherwise have. This will help to protect frontline services such as social care and libraries.”

In which case the Council should follow the example set by Stockport Council and bring back these services under the direct control of the Council in order to ensure there is no erosion of service delivery to vulnerable adults in the London Borough of Barnet.”


***** Ends *****

Notes to Editors.

Contact details: John Burgess Barnet UNISON on 07738389569 or 0208 359 2088 or email:


1. Barnet Council Cabinet Agrees to create a Local Authority Trading Company

2. New trading company set to be launched

3. UNISON report on Local Authority Trading Company: Privatising Adults and Housing Services

4. Francis Inquiry

 5. International support for Fremantle workers

6. Fremantle Care workers dispute


7. Stockport Council bring back services in house


8. Chelsea Cares goes into liquidation