Barnet UNISON Update: Yes it’s Capita and Yes it’s another Pensions Fail.  

 

“The Pensions Regulator has issued a draft improvement notice to the London Borough of Barnet to tackle deficiencies in the pension fund’s administration processes and controls.”

“Meanwhile, a recent internal audit report has identified a number of “high risk-rated issues” in relation to the scheme’s administration, which is outsourced to Capita.”

http://www.pensions-expert.com/DB-Derisking/TPR-still-unhappy-with-pensions-admin-at-Barnet

The above are extracts from an article by Pensions Expert Sophia Imeson | July 15, 2019 “TPR still unhappy with pensions admin at Barnet”.

“It’s becoming a full-time job just keeping track of the relentless number of issues arising from poor performance of the Capita Pension Administration service. The question our members keep asking is “how many times does Capita have to fail before the service is taken off Capita and brought back in-house?” Whilst Barnet UNISON I welcomes the news that the Leader of Barnet Council wants to “get things right” where Barnet UNISON differs is why the reluctance to simply end the contract? Barnet UNISON has sat in too many committee meetings where councillors have heard the following: “Capita has put together a plan.”

It is too late for any plan. It is patently obvious there are some pretty fundamental problems with the Capita Pensions Administration Service which is why in July 2019 “internal audit report has recently flagged up a “limited assurance” level for the scheme’s design and effectiveness of controls in place.”

The latest news is that The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has issued a draft improvement notice to Barnet Council should be the final straw.

What should Barnet Council do next?

Barnet Council needs to seriously think about what it does next. The reason Barnet UNISON says this is because to run an efficient Pension Administration Service you need to ensure the HR and Payroll are working effectively as this can also have a serious impact on Pension Administration.

The problem Barnet UNISON can see is the Council knee jerk reaction due to understandable pressure to act could end in the Council simply moving to another HR provider.

This act fails to assess the impact of Payroll issues on Pensions Administration service.

For some reason, when Capita bid to take over our services in 2012, they proposed to split the in-house Payroll service by running payroll services out of Belfast and Carlisle.

It would be an understatement to say that there have been issues with Payroll.

If Barnet Council simply switch provider, fast forward six months’ time and councillors could be sitting in a committee meeting listening to LBB HR, Capita (Payroll) and Pensions (new provider) all arguing who is responsible for service issues.

Barnet UNISON has consistently taken the same approach to these endemic failures.

Barnet Council needs to bring back and rebuild the Payroll and Pension Administration services to work alongside the recently returned HR service.

Only then does Barnet UNISON believe that the Pension Administration service can return to the high standards it provided before the outsourcing to Capita”

End.

Background reading of previous reports on Capita Pensions in Barnet

  1. TPR still unhappy with pensions admin at Barnet

By Sophia Imeson | July 15, 2019

“The Pensions Regulator has issued a draft improvement notice to the London Borough of Barnet to tackle deficiencies in the pension fund’s administration processes and controls…..”

http://www.pensions-expert.com/DB-Derisking/TPR-still-unhappy-with-pensions-admin-at-Barnet

  1. Light at end of tunnel in Barnet admin fiasco

By Stephanie Hawthorne | May 23, 2019

“The problem was once so serious that Hymans Robertson, the actuary to the scheme, was commissioned by Barnet council to investigate the quality of the pensions data, and it was feared that inaccuracies could lead to a delay carrying out the triennial valuation later this year.”

http://www.pensions-expert.com/DB-Derisking/Light-at-end-of-tunnel-in-Barnet-admin-fiasco

  1. Ongoing data problems spark valuation concerns at Barnet

Sophia Imeson | March 28, 2019

“In 2017, the Pensions Regulator said it had fined the Local Government Pension Scheme fund £1,000 for failing to submit its 2016 scheme return on time.”

http://www.pensions-expert.com/DB-Derisking/Ongoing-data-problems-spark-valuation-concerns-at-Barnet?ct=true

  1. Barnet in TPR breach as Capita misses payments

Alex Janiaud | October 22, 2018

“The London Borough of Barnet Council has reported itself to the Pensions Regulator after failing to produce 447 pension benefit statements on time.”

“A spokesperson for the regulator confirmed that it was “in contact with those responsible for the governance and administration of the scheme”.

The spokesperson said: “We expect all those responsible for the governance and administration of a scheme to ensure appropriate internal controls are in place to ensure that non-compliant employers fulfil their responsibilities to that scheme.”

http://www.pensions-expert.com/DB-Derisking/Barnet-in-TPR-breach-as-Capita-misses-payments

The causes of Climate Change are a trade union workplace issue.

Barnet UNISON branch thinks it’s important to bridge the gap between the call for #ClimateChangeStrike #20Sept and how the causes of #ClimateChange are directly impacting on the health and wellbeing of our members.

Trade Unions have a long history of taking up health and safety issues on behalf of their members.

It’s important that the campaign to deal with #ClimateChange doesn’t treat it as an abstract issue that affects someone else.

The causes of #ClimateChange are real and are already having an effect in workplaces all over the world.

Our branch has already begun discussions with Barnet Council about air pollution and we are due to meet later this month.

In the meantime we are beginning conversations with our members via leaflets, online videos which we are posting on our social media sites and in our weekly eNews communication.

Here are two very simple but effective videos made by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

What does Air Pollution PM 2.5 do inside children’s body and brain?

https://youtu.be/QcS3ovdsgNI

Breathe Life – How air pollution impacts your body” World Health Organisation (WHO)

https://youtu.be/GVBeY1jSG9Y

Earlier this month our branch executive passed a motion entitled:

End the causes of Climate Change – a Call for Urgent Action and Solidarity which you can read here:

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2019/07/15/end-the-causes-of-climate-change-a-call-for-urgent-action-and-solidarity/

 

Please sign our End the causes of Climate Change Petition now 👇👇👇👇👇

https://www.change.org/p/london-borough-of-barnet-climate-change

End the causes of Climate Change – a Call for Urgent Action and Solidarity

This is an Emergency Please sign our Petition now

https://www.change.org/p/london-borough-of-barnet-climate-change

End the causes of Climate Change – a Call for Urgent Action and Solidarity  Motion.

Branch notes:

  • The Earth’s temperature has already risen by 1 degree above pre-industrial levels. The IPCC report last autumn warned that we only have 12 years to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees. Carbon emissions need to be cut by 45% by 2030, and reach zero carbon by 2050 in order to avoid a dangerous tipping point.
  • Air Pollution is the number one cause of deaths from environmental impacts resulting in the premature deaths of 40,000 citizens and an economic cost of £54 billion.
  • The UK Government has been taken to the European Court by Client Earth over its failure to act on illegal air pollution levels and the Government has lost its case which means it must now act.
  • A large number of our members work outdoors and are regularly exposed to air pollution.
  • The tremendous impact of the school students strikes in shifting government complacency over climate change forcing them to amend the 2008 Climate Change act.
  • Greta Thunberg’s call for a climate strike and for adults and workers to join the global school students strike on the 20th September which will begin a week of action on climate.
  • The solidarity strikes organised by trade unions in Belgium and France.

 Branch believes: 

  • Climate change is a trade union issue.
  • Our members have the right to work in a safe environment and for any associated risks to be mitigated.
  • Our Council needs to do more to protect our members in the face of the Climate Emergency.
  • More broadly the future of our planet is at risk if we don’t organise now to force governments’ to cut emissions in line with the IPCC report.
  • That taxing the very wealthy and closing tax loopholes in line with Labour Party manifesto commitments will meet the cost of cutting emissions by 50%.
  • That we must keep the pressure up. The school students have led the way but the trade union movement as a whole must now act to ensure that they don’t fight alone.

Branch resolves:

  • To commits the branch into entering urgent negotiations with Barnet Council and other employers in order to identify the following:
  • The risks to the health and wellbeing of workers regularly exposed to air pollution.
  • What measures/protection can be put in place to mitigate the hard of air pollution?
  • What health checks can be made available to workers regularly exposed to air pollution?
  • The branch contacts our union to ascertain any possible legal claims for injury at work as a result of regular expose to air pollution.
  • To back the call for a climate strike on 20 September
  • To support the call by the UCU for the TUC to organise a 30 minute workday solidarity stoppage to coincide with the global school student strike on the 20th
  • To call upon our national executive to support the UCU’s motion at this year’s TUC congress calling for a 30 minute workday stoppage.
  • For our branch to argue for and call a stoppage on the 20th September and for our branch to campaign for the maximum possible show of solidarity with school students 20th

Call out in solidarity for local democracy in Barnet 30 July 2019

On Tuesday 30 July 2019, 7pm in Hendon Town Hall, Barnet Council will vote on a proposal that in will restrict Barnet residents’ ability to ask questions and speak at future Council Committee meetings.

The London Borough of Barnet has a wealth of community activism which includes Barnet Bloggers (Mr Reasonable, Mrs Angry, Mr Mustard and Barnet Eye) and Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) to name just a few.

Their contributions over the last decade have largely been supportive of the services our members provide.

However, their contribution to future committees will virtually cease if the proposed rule change is passed at Full Council on 30 July 2019.

Barnet residents have responded by setting up a petition entitled “Stop Barnet Council From Gagging Residents”

You and read and sign in solidarity by clicking on this link here

https://t.co/P7sb0e3KNU?amp=1

Barnet UNISON is asking members to show solidarity by joining Barnet residents on Tuesday 30 July outside Hendon Town Hall from 6 pm onwards.

“Breathe Life – How air pollution impacts your body”

Barnet UNISON notes the dangers air pollution can have on our members working in Barnet.

We have already started discussions with Barnet Council about what can be done to mitigate the dangers of breathing in polluted air.

It is important our members understand the risks and what measures their employer can take to help both mitigate and or reduce the risk of air pollution.

The following video entitled “Breathe Life – How air pollution impacts your body” was made by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

It is a short and easy to understand video.

There is a Climate Emergency and it is impacting on all of us now. It would be wrong to ignore it. Action is needed now. Please keep up to date by ensuring you receive our weekly Barnet UNISON eNews email by contacting the branch on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

 

 

 

Lest we ever forget the million pound plus fraud committed by a Capita employee

Below is an extract from a report submitted to

Audit Committee 17 July 2018 


Corporate Anti-Fraud Team (CAFT) Annual Report 2018/19

(Source: https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s52410/Appendix%201%20CAFT%20Annual%20Report%201st%20April%202018%2031st%20March%202019.pdf )

2018-19 saw CAFT officers investigate and prosecute an unprecedented internal financial fraud. In Response to his officer resource was diverted from all sections within the team to deal with the investigation. The case was given the name Operation Rouble which subsequently proved to be the most challenging, complex and substantial fraud that Barnet has experienced.

  • The fraud related to two offences of ‘abuse of position’ which were committed by a Capital Investment Manager, employed by Capita and working for Regional Enterprise. The offender created instructions for CHAPS payments in excess of £2 million to be processed in relation to fictitious compulsory purchase orders.
  • The CAFT were notified in December 2017 and utilised their financial investigators powers to obtain tangible evidence which resulted in the offender being arrested and suspended within 24 hours of the investigation being initiated.
  • The criminal aspect of the investigation was evidenced and prepared for prosecution within five months which subsequently led to the successful conclusion of the case in July 2018 which saw the offender being sentenced at Harrow Crown Court to 5 years imprisonment.
  • CAFT has carried on the financial investigation and continues to do so in order to ensure all proceeds of crime are identified and recovered accordingly
  • CAFT has also worked closely with Internal Audit and Finance in relation to recommendation from the external review of financial controls and the ongoing audit testing relating to financial controls.
  • CAFT jointly conducting a payments data analytics exercise with Internal Audit in order to identify irregularities and/or make recommendations for improvement.

Further details of the investigation can be found in the noteworthy investigation section, and full details of the external review into financial control conducted by Grant Thornton is available on the council’s website Financial controls https://www.barnet.gov.uk/citizen-home/council-and-democracy/finance-and-funding/Financial-controls.html


12 months later at Policy and Resources Committee 17 June 2019 Barnet Council decided to keep both Capita contracts largely untouched with a review sometime in the future. 

 

 

Trying to make sense of easyCouncil and Capita?????

Barnet Council entered into two large outsourcing contracts with Capita in 2013. Six years later there has been a serious fraud and the services are not up to standard.

Who is saying this?

The Council both the staff who use Capita services and the staff that commission Capita services.

A year ago the Council announced a large number of services were to be brought back in-house yet a year on only a few have made it across the line.

On Monday 17 June 2019, Barnet Council gave Capita the thumbs up for both contracts.

You can read more about the Capita contracts here on the Barnet UNISON website

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/

Air pollution in London: Living and working in London

Barnet UNISON has a large number of members some of whom work outside for all of their time or a large part of their time in work.

The dangers of air pollution has become increasingly more worrying, numerous reports have produced data that show dangerous levels of toxins in the air.

The Times Newspaper recently published an article entitled:

“London air pollution mapped: how does your child’s school compare?”

(Source: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/london-air-pollution-mapped-how-does-your-childs-school-compare-nqxbbm8nl 9 May 2019)

 “An analysis of 2,000 school sites shows that pupils at every school in the capital are exposed to an annual average higher than 10 micrograms per cubic metre, the level recommended by the World Health Organisation.”

Barnet UNISON downloaded the data and discovered 91 Barnet schools had been exposed to air pollution which exceeded the recommended limits by the World Health Organisation.

You can download the spreadsheet by clicking the link below

Air Quality  

The following are a series of questions that our branch is seeking answers to.

  1. What toxic chemicals are in the air?
  2. What do these toxic chemicals do to our bodies?
  3. What health issues can these toxins cause?
  4. What health checks can be carried out now to test the impact of toxins in the air?
  5. Which NHS service is able to carry out health checks on the impact of air pollution?
  6. Will wearing some type of face mask or other protective equipment help mitigate the impact of air pollution?
  7. Will wearing some type of face mask or other protective equipment be better than no mask at all?
  8. Who is ultimately responsible for air pollution in London?
  9. Should the employer be responsible for carrying out risk assessments for any of their staff exposed to dangerous toxins in the air?
  10. What measures should the employer take to ensure staff do not suffer any ill health problems due to working outside and breathing in toxins in the air?
  11. Should the employer provide staff with some type of face mask or other protective equipment from the toxins in the air?
  12. Should the employer provide some type of health checks for staff regularly exposed to air pollution?

If you have answers to these questions please email the branch on contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

 

 

Don’t Sign The Survey: Don’t Give Up Your Rights at Work

Dear Member

I am writing to you because Barnet Council has issued a staff survey without any consultation with Barnet UNISON.

Why we are asking our members not to complete the survey.

Barnet UNISON believes that Street Scene workers should be treated equally with all other Council workers.

This survey has clearly been designed to undermine your Terms and Conditions.

If the Council wants to discuss any changes to your hours, your pay, your sick pay, your annual leave, your training, your health and safety then they should discuss this with your union.

Before signing anything you have the right to consult with your union.

If it is good enough for other Council workers it should be good enough for Street Scene workers.

For example here are some of the questions they are asking.

As a Barnet employee which of the following is the MOST important to you? (Tick one option)

☐ 30 days Annual Leave

☐ Paid Sick Leave

As a Barnet employee which of the following is the MOST important to you? (Tick one option)

☐ Training on Saturdays

☐ 30 days Annual Leave

As a Barnet employee which of the following is the MOST important to you? (Tick one option)

Training on Saturdays

☐ Paid Sick Leave

We have written to the Chief Executive asking for this survey to be pulled.

Best wishes
John Burgess

Branch Secretary

Barnet UNISON

Another Capita Pension Service Fail!

The reports on data quality issues with the Capita Pension Administration Service based in Darlington have been many.

I noticed that there is another Data Quality Report submitted for the Pension Fund Committee, on Thursday 30 May 2019

(See here https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s52720/Data%20Quality%20Report.pdf )

It reminded me of the Open Portal web site all members of the Council Pension Scheme had access to before Capita took over.

It was taken down in 2014 with a promise that it would be back up soon.

It’s 24 May 2019 and it is not available and worrying Capita seem to think it was not in the contract to provide such a portal.

Whenever I need to check out the contract there is only one person to contact and that is Barnet Blogger Mr Reasonable I contacted him because I was convinced it must be in the contract and literally five minutes later he sent over the relevant section in the Capita contract.

The specific requirement can be found in the HR Method Statement (which is attached as a PDf document)

Final_HR_Method_Statement_Mar2013_Capita_redacted (1)

Scroll down to Page 30, paragraph (emphasis mine)

 2.8 PENSIONS ADMINISTRATION / OUTPUT SPECIFICATION REF: HR008

“Members will also have access their pension information via the web portal. This on-line service gives the members the facility to perform ‘what-if’ calculations, view and update their personal information including nominees. Benefit statements and other scheme documentation will be available for current and deferred members. Pensioners will have access and be able to view all their payslips and P60s.”

I can’t even begin to explain how useful this would be for members of the Pension Scheme, ironically if this had been implemented it would have saved resources for Capita.

Have I notified the Council?

Yes, I have raised this immediately with the Council.

I have two questions.

  1. When will Barnet Council hold Capita to account and insist the above web portal is put in place immediately?
  2. Why is the Council continuing to accept failure from Capita in particular why is not the Pension Service being brought back in-house.

At this moment of publication Capita are still providing our Pension Service and their Share Price is £1.05 p a share. See below 

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