Hey Barnet, don’t cut front line services, the savings are here

Barnet UNISON advises Barnet Tories of savings which will not impact on frontline services and residents.

One of my biggest disappointments during the local government elections has been the complete lack of any discussions with the electorate about the end of local government in 2020.

By that I mean the direct assault on local government funding that was unleashed in 2011 and is set to continue up to 2020. After this there will no longer be enough money for social care never mind all the other council services such as waste and recycling, highways, libraries street cleansing, to name but a few.

It is important to note this is not something only being propagated by Trade Unions; the Leaders in Local Government have been banging on about the growing crisis as each year more austerity brutal budgets are passed and implemented across all public services.

In the absence of a “magical money tree” budget decisions are going to have to be made which will hit “frontline or not frontline services.”

Our offer here will not address the “2020 Armageddon” but it could buy some time for vital public services.

1. Delete all non-essential locum posts

Delete all non-essential locum posts in the Council which could generate several million pound savings immediately.

2. Re-negotiate the current agency contract with Capita.

Re-negotiate the current agency contract with Capita that removes the requirement to pay gain share.

3. Bring Barnet Group back in-house

Look at Barnet Group structure. It is our view that Barnet Group is not fit for purpose – there are too many senior management posts, starting at the top with a chief executive earning around 150k. In the current austerity climate and looming financial Armageddon the financial case for it to continue simply does not stack up.

Services in Barnet Group need to be brought back in-house.

4. Agency/Consultancy spend.

It is matter of fact that this budget has increased from

£7,732,269 million in 2010/11 to £17,980,842 million for 2017/18. #

A thorough audit of spend needs to be conducted in order to reduce the reliance on agency/consultants.

5. Capita contracts – bring them back in-house

It is a matter of fact that Capita has received £335.12 million in payments from Barnet Council. This represents an overpayment of £123.88 million. Due to commercial confidentiality there is no way to assess that this overpayment represents “value for money”.

Barnet UNISON notes that two internal audit reports found significant issues with the Capita contract such as the Pensions administration and Finance. These serious concerns were not identified in the two recent Capita reviews carried out by the client side service. It is our view that Council commences discussions to bring back services in house.

We note in a recent CIPFA article identified:

“Contracts reduce financial flexibility at a time when budget makers need to be fleet of foot: councils and other public bodies can’t afford to be locked into long term, unvarying contractual schemes. The old doctrine of risk transfer now sounds like deceit: the state retains ‘last resort’ responsibility and the reliability of contractors cannot be guaranteed.”


6. End the Commissioning Service and commence a senior management restructure

The Commissioning service (client side) revenue budget has grown substantially since the mass outsourcing began and is now approximately £35 million a year.

By bringing services in-house the commissioning service becomes obsolete. It would then follow the need for a senior management restructure which would offer up more savings which could be used for frontline services.

In conclusion it is important to re-state that the above proposals would not address the doomsday scenario for local government funding post 2020. The above proposals are an alternative to more cuts being handed out to already fragile frontline services. Any further attempts to cut and or outsource frontline will have a detrimental financial and mental health impact on the workforce and services.

If there is choice to cut frontline services and jobs or cut senior management and non-essential locums then there is only one choice.

Protect frontline services.

John Burgess

Branch Secretary



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