Ten years of ‘Future Shape’, ‘easyCouncil’, ‘One Barnet’

On Tuesday 6 May 2008, two things happened that changed my life.

The first was my meeting with the Chief Executive Leo Boland and Nick Walkley (later to become Chief Executive) where they informed me about their next project they called ‘Future Shape’.

The second was the Cabinet meeting which met that night and rubber stamped the ‘Future Shape’ proposal.

Click here to view the Cabinet report

https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/Data/Cabinet/200805061900/Agenda/Document%203.pdf

It’s been a roller coaster emotionally, mentally and physically the last ten years.

I don’t know how I am still here, but I do know that I am lucky to have an incredible team of office staff and activists all of whom strive hard to do all that they can for our members.

To mark this anniversary since the birth of Future Shape the branch enlisted the services of Dexter Whitfield to write a report on the last ten years.

I am proud to announce that the report was published today Monday 30 April, 2018 at 8 a.m.

As an added bonus, Jeremy Corbyn took time off his busy schedule to come along to meet some of the Barnet campaigners who have been active this last ten years in a very hostile environment of relentless outsourcing and cutting public services.

It is a very detailed report, but there again it had to be because there has been so much going on in our Council.

You can read our Press Release here

Damning report into EasyCouncil, Outsourcing including forward by John McDonnell

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Barnet-UNISON-Capita-report-2018.pdf

Below are three short video messages from Dexter Whitfield on his report.

Dexter Whitfield on campaigning against outsourcing

 

https://youtu.be/zDt8VKKQ-Vs

Dexter Whitfield on outsourcing failures

https://youtu.be/IiD17Pt7OwY

Dexter Whitfield on true costs of Barnet easyCouncil

https://youtu.be/V0SytYCj1HA

Finally  I am proud to see so many UNISON reps across the UK issue the following message:

UNISON reps across the UK call on public bodies to end contracts with Capita

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/?p=6109&preview=true

 

Four Days That Shook One Barnet

What a week it has been.

Background:

In August 2013 Barnet Council decided to “get into bed” with Capita, when they signed the contracts, Capita Share price was 959.

Back in 2010 another contractor (Connaught’s) went into liquidation. They provided the Council Housing repair service. Our members were sacked by a telephone conference call.

As a result of that experience, when the Council started “courting” the private sector to run our services, Barnet UNISON warned the Council about the risk of contractor failure.

The response to our feedback was, “don’t worry”, “Capita is a top FTSE 100 company”, hence there is no risk of the contractor failure.

2018 and Carillion.

Earlier this year Carillion collapsed and went into administration.

To the wider public it was a surprise and a shock.

However, as more details emerge about the fall of Carillion, more questions are being asked.

  • How did this happen?
  • Why did the external auditors KPMG sign off their accounts.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/01/30/kmpg-investigation-will-make-break-frc/

  • Why did the government hand over large scale contracts to a company that was in serious financial trouble long before it finally collapsed?

“For those already thinking this sounds a bit like Carillion – you are right. A gaping pension deficit, departing CEO, shrinking cash flow and over-reliance on intangible “goodwill” in it’s accounts – signed off by KPMG.

Capita’s profit warning caps a 24 month slide which saw the UK’s largest outsourcing company tumble out of the FTSE 100 index, its share price losing 80 per cent of its value since January 2016, falling from £11.60 to £2.01 today.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/capita-carillion-outsourcing-local-authorities-councils-barnet-northamtonpshire-a8188006.html

It is not clear whether the above news of the fall of the Capita Share price has ever been noted in the Barnet Council register. Furthermore after listening to the Council debate (Tuesday 30 January 208) on contingency plans in the event of contractor failure it is blatantly clear that none of the councillors had any awareness of the Capita Share price position.

 

Day One: Tuesday 30 January 2018.

Capita Share Price opened 358.60

On Tuesday 30 January 2018 at the Barnet Full Council meeting the following Opposition (Labour) Motion was submitted in the name of Cllr Barry Rawlings

Public services and outsourcing

Council notes the collapse of the giant outsourcing firm Carillion earlier this month following financial problems, a number of profit warnings, the departure of its Chief Executive and a drastic plunge in its share price. Council notes the uncertainty and concern this causes for thousands of Carillion’s workers, the small businesses in its supply chain, the projects it was contracted to deliver, and the public who use the services it was contracted to provide.

Council notes LB Barnet’s use of mass outsourcing contracts to provide critical back office, regulatory and other services, and therefore requests that the Policy & Resources Committee receives a report on what contingency plans are in place should anything similar happen to outsourced services in Barnet.

You can listen to the debate by going to the web site http://bit.ly/2EycNU5

The following motion was agreed. This is astonishing in itself as it is extremely rare for all political parties to agree on a motion.

The contingency plans for insourcing will be submitted to Performance and Contract Management Committee, Tuesday 27th February, 2018 7.00 pm.

This is a public meeting

“Flying a kite to cause trouble” “nothing to worry about Capita”

This debate took place before anyone was aware that Capita were about to issue a Profit notice.

Capita Share price closed at 347.60

 

Day Two: Wednesday 31 January 2018

Capita Share Price opened 250.00

Capita plc issue a profit warning:

Capita’s new Chief Executive stated: “Today, Capita is too complex,” he said. “It is driven by a short-term focus and lacks operational discipline and financial flexibility. [It] needs to change its approach. Cost savings and non-core disposals alone will not be enough. We have also taken the significant decision to suspend the dividend and seek equity.”

Some headlines:

Capita: more than £1bn wiped off value of UK government contractor

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jan/31/shares-in-uk-government-contractor-capita-plunge-40-after-profit-warning

The next Carillion? Shares in outsourcing firm Capita plunged 40% after profit warning.

http://uk.businessinsider.com/capita-profit-warning-share-price-fall-2018-1

Outsourcing giant Capita announced the suspension of its dividend as part of a transformation plan this morning – and shares duly plunged by more than 40 per cent.

http://www.cityam.com/279777/capita-shares-have-tumbled-more-than-third-city-reacting

Contingency plans being made for Barnet’s contracts with Capita

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jan/31/contingency-plans-being-made-for-barnets-contracts-with-capita

Barnet UNISON writes to Chief Executive seeking details of the contingency plans.

 

Capita share price closed at 183.05

 

Day Three: Thursday 1 February 2018

Capita Share price opened at 178.15

In the debate in the House of Commons today, a Labour MP referred to Barnet Council having a contingency plan.

https://youtu.be/d_hRl60ZcN4

UK officials met Capita bosses to discuss its financial problems

The company’s value has more than halved since a profit warning earlier this week, falling a further 13% on Thursday. Competitors including Interserve, Mitie and Serco also saw their shares slide.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/feb/01/uk-officials-capita-discuss-financial-problems

Oh dear, Capita: MPs put future UK.gov outsourcing in the spotlight

Labour MP Rachel Reeves asked about the serious financial concerns at Capita, after £1bn was wiped off the company’s value following a suspension of dividends and £700m rights issue yesterday. The firm’s shares have now plunged by almost 50 per cent.

Immediately after the announcement, Barnet Council – dubbed “easyCouncil” for its extreme reliance on outsourcing (it has more than half a billion pounds worth of contracts with Capita) – put contingency plans in place to examine how it would handle the fallout should Capita fail.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/02/01/mps_scrutinise_capita_uk_government_outsourcing_contracts/

Capita share price closed at 160.25

 

 

Day Four: Friday 2 February 2018

Capita Share price opened at 160.35

 

Carillion collapse leaves Northern Ireland staff ‘facing uncertainty’

“The news that Capita stocks have nosedived places further pressure on the system of outsourcing public services and will require a significant review. We also referred the security of the PIP assessment contract, which currently rests with Capita, to the Auditor General for further inquiries.”

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/carillion-collapse-leaves-northern-ireland-staff-facing-uncertainty-36557577.html

 

Norfolk councils will monitor contractor Capita after news of group’s woes

http://www.edp24.co.uk/business/norfolk-councils-monitoring-contractor-capita-shares-financial-problems-carillion-1-5378698

 

Capita contract probed after thousands of clinical letters stuffed in a drawer somewhere

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/02/02/spending_watchdog_probes_clinical_correspondence_backlog_in_capita_contract/

 

‘Business as usual’ for school support company Entrust – despite Capita profit warning

http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/news/stoke-on-trent-news/business-usual-school-support-company-1157615

Capita share price closed at 162.30

“All that glitters is not gold” – One Barnet Capita Symonds contract under scrutiny.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 6 June 2013

 

On Tuesday 11 June 2013 Barnet Council’s Budget and Performance Overview and Scrutiny Committee are to scrutinise the headline grabbing One Barnet Development Regulatory Services (DRS) contract award to Capita Symonds Ltd (Capita). This is the second big One Barnet contract Capita will have won from the council in less than six months.

 

Regulatory Services covers a range of key functions Barnet residents and government consider essential – including maintaining local roads, determining planning applications, enforcing trading standards and food safety – the function of many of these services is to regulate commercial operators in the public interest. 

 

Undoubtedly a key factor in the decision to award the contract to Capita is the claim of £39.1 million of “guaranteed financial benefits” over the lifetime of the 10 year contract.

 

But as the old saying goes “If it looks too good to be true, then it is probably is.” – the key to everything is in the detail.

 

Of the £39.1million “guaranteed financial benefits”1 only a seventh (£5.3m) is cost savings which is significantly less than the Council’s own 2011 Business Case which claimed cost savings of £19,703,105.

 

The lower Capita cost savings represents a little over £0.5m annual savings.

 

This leaves £33.8 million (86%) of the “guaranteed financial benefits” dependent on winning new business.

 

The report states “Capita Symonds’ proposal for a greater use of automated and web self-service channels and social media may negatively affect certain groups with protected characteristics as there is a risk that they may not directly benefit from these improvements.”  These groups, which include older adults, disabled and vulnerable residents make up a large proportion of the borough’s population and many may feel alienated by these service ‘improvements’.

 

The Capita contract being recommended is entirely dependent on increasing fees and charges to Barnet residents and businesses with the clear intention to seek more work from outside the borough.

 

Our members working across these services are fearful that the Easy Council approach to delivering services will emerge with additional fees/charges if you want to ‘jump the queue’ for services. Is this an indirect stealth tax for council tax payers and local businesses?

 

John Burgess UNISON Branch Secretary said “Should the Council be dabbling in risky business ventures, or should it concentrate on simply providing high-quality value for money services that the people of Barnet expect and deserve? In the current stark economic climate questions need to be asked by councillors at the forthcoming scrutiny committee as to the wisdom of supporting something which is critically dependent on 86% income growth to succeed and where there is no evidence of any other local authorities having expressed an intention of joining the Joint Venture so far.”

 

1 These Financial Benefits are not necessarily cashable savings which can be realised in cash terms.

 

***** Ends *****

 

Links

 

1. What is One Barnet watch this short animation http://ning.it/Qp5Adx

2. UNISON report on One Barnet DRS contract http://ning.it/11OQWlQ

3. UNISON financial report on One Barnet DRS contract http://ning.it/12mocvO

4. One hundred PLUS reasons why One Barnet is high risk and bad for residents and services http://ning.it/NAyJLY

5. 397 jobs “The true cost of One Barnet outsourcing” http://ning.it/11OSuMT

10 steps to learn more about One Barnet

1. Watch the film ‘A Tale of Two Barnets’ http://ning.it/PUBMVP

 2. Listen to Ken Loach talk about the One Barnet Billion Pound Gamble Film http://ning.it/PIzXpv

3. Watch the Billion Pound Gamble Film Trailer http://ning.it/PvZYxF

4. Listen to Mr Reasonable explain all about the OneBarnet magical box http://ning.it/P4vPVW

5. Watch the Billion Pound Gamble Animation http://ning.it/Qp5Adx

 6. Watch Barnet Residents occupy Hendon Town Hall http://ning.it/W7a08n

7. Listen to a Barnet resident speak at Barnet Full Council meeting http://ning.it/WgcUZ2

8. Learn about the Occupation of Friern Library here http://ning.it/W7alIe

9. Save Friern campaign showing how to campaign against the cuts http://ning.it/XhYQ1R

10. Watch the excellent short film called ‘A Polite Revolution’  http://ning.it/W7b7Fc

 

 

 

397 jobs “The true cost of One Barnet outsourcing”

After months of TUPE consultation with Barnet Council and Capita about the proposed mass privatisation of key council services, the true human cost has finally been revealed in the latest Measures letter sent to the Unions today.

Since the decision to award the contract to Capita, UNISON has been trying to ascertain the true cost to staff and jobs.

This letter reveals the massive scale of job losses. Out of *597 posts currently providing Council services to Barnet residents only 200 will remain within the borough of Barnet, meaning *397 posts will be deleted/redundant.

The number of job losses in our community is significantly much higher than was being claimed by the council when the contract was first announced in December 2012.

Did this have to happen?

No, Barnet Council could have inserted a clause into the contract which stated the Council would only consider bids which promised to bring jobs to their community. This is not an uncommon factor when councils are looking at outsourcing as an option. Indeed Capita have recently won a contract with Staffordshire County Council to deliver services which includes a commitment to bring 1,613 additional jobs to their community.

UNISON will continue through the TUPE consultations with Capita and the Council to try and reduce the number of redundancies.

* Still awaiting a decision for Procurement services (12 posts)

TUPE regulations http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1655

One Barnet “My worst fears” – by John Burgess UNSON Branch Secretary

In my role as Branch Secretary I am currently taking part in consultation over the transfer of over 550 staff from Barnet Council to Capita Group. Unfortunately, I have had extensive experience of transfers of staff out of Barnet Council, more so in the last 12 months. However, the Capita transfer is the biggest and most complex transfer I have ever been involved in.

The big difference with this transfer to Capita is that Capita have announced that the majority of the jobs will be based out of the London Borough in Barnet. The jobs are been exported to Belfast & Carlisle, Blackburn & Southampton to name but a few destinations. The impact of these proposal is that hundreds of local jobs will be lost to our local community at a time when there is need for jobs.

In the discussions with Capita we are trying to negotiate an alternative to jobs being moved out of Barnet in order to keep jobs and prevent redundancies and I have asked for support from the Council to help in this aim.

However, last week I was shocked and upset by the news that the first One Barnet Project ‘Your Choice’ was failing, so badly that it needed a £1million loan from Barnet Homes just to survive, But the loan is not enough, ‘Your Choice’ submitted a proposal which if implemented would decimate low paid care workers terms & condition.

I take no comfort from saying “we told you so!” as last year UNISON submitted several reports on the proposal to create a LATC where we said: “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)

Unsurprisingly Cabinet Committee ignored our comments.

BUT now we can see our worst fears have been realised.

The problem is that instead of ‘biting the bullet’ and admitting this One Barnet Project had not worked, ‘Your Choice’ is trying desperately to hang on to a business model that simply won’t work.  

Take a look at the ‘Your Choice’ consultation document (to view click here), there is no information or evidence to explain why the Councils Business Case produced in May 2011 (to view click here) could be so WRONG.

A lot has been made on the money spent on consultants and legal advisors for the One Barnet Projects. Many a time councillors defending the One Barnet Programme have responded that they have learnt lessons from previous mistakes. In which case why are the Council not publishing the ‘One Barnet Lesson Learnt reports?’

UNISON is asking the Council to honour the Councils Business Case (which stated in Business Case at paragraph 7.4 “Commercial risk ultimately remains with the Council and in the unlikely event of failure, the services will need to be brought back in-house.”)

We need to learn the lessons from Winterbourne and the Francis Inquiry.

We believe the proposals in the consultation document are de-skilling and reducing support at a time when the focus post Francis inquiry is on need for better trained and skilled staff and more supervision.

“What does this mean for the other One Barnet Projects?”

The stakes are so much harder for the Capita contract and the Development & Regulatory Services (DRS) contract (preferred bidder has not yet been announced, it could be either EC Harris or Capita).

What worries me is that if the Councils Business case could be so wrong for what was a very simple contract, what is the chance that the bigger One Barnet Projects could also go the same way?

Where has this been done before?

There are very little examples of Local Authority Trading Companies around the UK. Here are a few but because they are so new there is little to report.

 

1. Essex County Council’s Essex Care Ltd

 

2. Kensington and Chelsea London Borough’s Chelsea Cares Ltd, went into liquidation in its first year.

3. Wokingham Council’s Optalis Ltd Optalis was set up in June 2011

4. Northamptonshire County Council’s Olympus Care Services Limited, Olympus started trading in March 2012.

5. Stockport MBC created Solutions SK to provide a wide range of services. Integrated Solutions SK was established, alongside, but under the management of Solutions SK, in 2009 to provide a wide range of adult social care services. It has recently disclosed that it has not won any external contracts and is failing to deliver the services that the council pays it for. The council agreed at Meeting of Extraordinary, Adults & Communities Scrutiny Committee, Wednesday, 19th December, 2012 (Item 4.)

“That the Executive be recommended to give approval to the return to the Council of the home support elements of Individual Solutions SK as soon as is practicable having regard to any HR and legal requirements and that further consultation be undertaken with any affected staff on the proposed transfer back to the Council.”

Link here http://democracy.stockport.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=7511

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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: john.burgess@barnetunison.org.uk

Links

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

http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/Data/Cabinet%20Resources%20Committee/201105241900/Agenda/Document%2011.pdf

2. New trading company set to be launched

http://www.barnet.gov.uk/news/article/40/new_trading_company_set_to_be_launched

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

http://www.european-services-strategy.org.uk/news/2012/local-authority-trading-company-latc-for-adult/latc-analysis-2012.pdf

4. Francis Inquiry

http://www.kingsfund.org.uk/projects/anticipating-francis-inquiry-report

 5. International support for Fremantle workers

http://www.unison.org.uk/news/news_view.asp?did=3620

6. Fremantle Care workers dispute

http://www.katebelgrave.com/2011/03/working-for-nothing/#more-244

 

7. Stockport Council bring back services in house

http://democracy.stockport.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=7511

 

8. Chelsea Cares goes into liquidation

http://kensington.londoninformer.co.uk/2011/10/chelsea-care-doomed-to-failure.html

 

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