Jeremy Corbyn on #BarnetCouncil, #Capita and losing control.

Jeremy Corbyn on #BarnetCouncil, #Capita and losing control.

It is never dull here in Barnet. In the House of Commons yesterday (21 March 2018), Jeremy Corbyn during Prime Minister Question Time, took the opportunity to comment on Barnet Council and Capita and the recent loss of control of the Council as the result of the deselection of 4 Tory Councillors.

Its amazing how he finds the time to keep up to date with what is going on in Barnet Council.

 

***UPDATED Barnet residents don’t blame our members working for Street Cleansing

Last week Barnet UNISON members working in Street Cleansing we called to a meeting and informed of a massive cut to overtime.The news came out of the blue, our members some who have been working for Barnet for decades were both angry and bewildered by this decision.Staff were told there was no longer a budget to cover the service and told that they shouldn’t rely on overtime payments. This did not go down well with the workforce who are the lowest paid in the Council and desperately rely on the overtime payments over the weekend.

This news follows quickly on from the recent 19% cut in the number of staff charged to keep the streets of Barnet clean just before Christmas last year.

In order to explain the cut and its impact on Barnet, Street Cleansing service for Saturday and Sundays which goes from Oakleigh Road depot.

Please note the figures below are for just one side of the borough. The other half of the service goes out from Harrow Depot (we won’t go why we have a depot outside Barnet in this post).

8 hours Finchley Central

8 hours North Finchley

8 Hours East Finchley

4 Hours East & New Barnet

4 hours Friern Barnet/Colney Hatch

4 Hours Whetstone

4 Hours Greenhill/ Mays Lane

8 Hours High Barnet

4 Temple Fortune

8 Golders Green

8 Cricklewood

8 Edgware

4 Mill Hill

8 Watling

4 Hendon Central

4 West Hendon

4 Brent Street

8 Hours response team x 2 = 16 hours

This makes that 92 hours for the whole of the borough.

The new service which started last weekend is a one 7.5 ton vehicle with one driver and one loader (16 hours) to cover all the above areas in Barnet.

This is a reduction of 78 hours per day.

Barnet UNISON has unsuccessfully attempted to try to restore the service for Barnet residents. We have sought clarification as to whether normal service will resume from 1 April 2018, we are still waiting. Our members were reporting increases in fly tipping before the workforce was cut, but still the Council implemented the cut. This massive cut to street cleansing at the weekends is going to have a dramatic impact on our borough.

Meanwhile we hear the Council have enough money to pay “eye watering” payments to Capita and seem to have very little control over agency/consultancy spend.

Barnet Supplier Payments – yet another reason why we need to start planning for change

http://reasonablenewbarnet.blogspot.co.uk/2018/02/barnet-supplier-payments-yet-another.html

But what do we know.

 

 

 

Contingency plans in the event of the failure of one of its providers of significant outsourced services.

“On 30th January 2018, Full Council passed a motion on public services and outsourcing, to be considered by the Policy and Resources Committee. Given the timeline of meeting dates, it was agreed that this item be considered at the February meeting of the Performance and Contract Management Committee.

This report provides Members with an outline of the council’s contingency planning arrangements, in the event of the failure of one of its providers of significant outsourced services. The council has a business continuity planning framework, which applies to all services, including outsourced services. In respect of provider failure, the relevant contracts set out the key provisions that would enable the council to ensure continuity of service provision, in particular through the exercise of step in rights.”

Details below

http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s45221/Report%20to%20PCM%20Feb%202018%20Contingency%20Planning%20FINAL.pdf

Barnet UNISON notes:

“1.7 The indicators include key accounting ratios that measure liquidity and indebtedness. In respect of Capita, the council reviewed its performance against the ratios on two occasions in the last year, as part of the process for considering pre-payment against the CSG and RE contracts. The ratios have been reviewed again, following the publication of its trading statement on 31st January 2018, and Capita have confirmed that they are far from reaching the relevant thresholds.”

Barnet UNISON is calling upon its members, residents to attend the Performance and Contract Management Committee, Tuesday 27th February, 2018 7.00 pm. Hendon Town Hall.

What has the “rigged economy, John McDonnell, Barnet UNISON motion” got in common

If it is good enough for the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell then its good enough for Barnet UNISON members, we have taken up the challenge and we are mobilising to campaign to bring back service in-house. We were fortunate to have John McDonnell speak at our AGM on 8 February 2018 you can view what he had to say here https://youtu.be/orDpOHNiowI

We passed following motion “Time to Take our Services Back!” below at our AGM.

We have now had confirmation that the motions have been approved for both UNISON Local Government Conference and UNISON National Delegate Conference in June 2018.

We hope our motion presents our union with an ideal opportunity to escalate and lead an organised grassroots campaign to bring outsourced services back in-house across our membership service groups. Let’s deliver “Deeds not words” and help banish all outsourcing from the workplace.

Motion: Time to Take our Services Back!

This union notes:

  1. Carillion went bust and the immediate effect was for building works on key public sector projects to stop. Potentially thousands of people lost their jobs as Carillion relied on numerous small businesses to deliver on its projects.
  2. Within a month of Carillion going bust Capita’s share prices nose-dived and speculation began as to whether it too would survive.
  3. Capita is one of a handful of big companies which bid to run public services on the promise of saving money. These companies employ tens of thousands of workers. Capita employs over 50,000.
  4. Capita advises Northampton on its finances. 1st February Northampton’s County Council Chief Finance Officer issued a section 114 notice banning any Council expenditure as it was overspent.
  5. Capita has several hundred contracts up for renewal this year.
  6. The initial response from the Local Government Association (LGA) has been to advise Councils not to do anything which might jeopardise the viability of companies like Capita.
  7. Forensics Company collapsed putting in jeopardy the validity of hundreds of court cases but was given further public funds to keep going.

This union believes:

  1. UNISON’s policies of opposing privatisation and outsourcing have been vindicated in the wake of these failures.
  2. The predicament of these companies presents risks to thousands of workers but also opportunities to thousands of workers as the arguments for services being run in-house strengthen.
  3. UNISON has an opportunity to seize the time by organising and campaigning to bring public services in-house and to stop the further outsourcing of other services.
  4. Vigorous and mass public campaigning has a real possibility of weakening the resolve to outsource other services and of discouraging the renewal of other contracts.
  5. The response of the LGA and the response to the collapse of the Forensics Company are outrageous as the onus of saving firms which have taken millions of public sector money to provide public services lies not with public bodies.

This union resolves:

  1. To write to all branches with outsourced members encouraging them to issue press releases calling on their employers to publicise their contingency plans in the event of private contractor failure. Model press releases to be circulated with this notice to assist branches.
  2. To link together the branches which have been able to issue press releases in order that these branches can directly share and develop with one another their experiences of campaigning within the workforce and the local community to bring services back in-house.
  3. To oppose calls to bail out private companies in place of demanding services are brought back in-house.

Solidarity feel free to share widely

 

Barnet UNISON report on the results of our Family Services Survey, 2018.

Our key recommendations: 

  1. London Borough of Barnet should carry out an urgent, independent investigation into the allegations of bullying in Family Services.
  2. Carry out a quantitative and qualitative audit of supervision.

“There is evidence that workers tend to treat the service user in the same way as they themselves are treated by their managers”

Eileen Munro 2011 (Munro Review of Child Protection)

“People are crying at their desks because they cannot cope”

Barnet Family Services social worker 2017

“Managers arrogant and bullying. No respect for workers”

Barnet Family Services social worker 2017

“Managers avoid relationships with social workers and hide behind their emails”

Barnet Family Services social worker 2017

“Because of the time it has taken to establish a more stable core of high quality managers, social workers have, over a year or more, experienced a chain of new managers arriving and introducing new systems without those social workers being involved or trained, with many reporting that they do not understand the changes or why they are being introduced. Those managers then quickly leave, and new managers repeat the cycle.”

Report into Children’s Social Care Services in the London Borough of Barnet, by Frankie Sulke, January 2018

 

To view full report click on link here UNISON Report on Family Services Survey

Barnet UNISON would like to give thanks to those colleagues who responded to the survey. Most were anxious about repercussions if they responded at all and almost all struggled to complete it fearing for the time they would lose on their caseload and the impact there. This, in itself, is indicative of the pressures facing colleagues in that service. Such is the very high turnover of staff that some whom completed this UNISON survey have already managed to “escape” from Barnet.

 

 

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

Barnet UNISON seek job security for #Capita staff working for Barnet Council

Press Release: Barnet UNISON seek job security for #Capita staff working for Barnet Council

31 January 2018.

This morning Capita staff woke up to some scary headlines that the former FTSE 100 company was in serious trouble.

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

This news follows on from the recent collapse of Carillion only a couple of weeks ago. Already political commentators are making comparisons with Carillion and Capita.

In light of the much publicised stress and anxiety experienced by Carillion workers in the wake of the company’s downfall; Barnet UNISON has written to the Chief Executive seeking details of Barnet Council’s contingency plan in the event Capita may have to give up their contracts.

We know that whatever happens there is going to be a great deal of speculation and uncertainty for the staff and whilst UNISON has seen the email from Jon Lewis, Capita’s, new Chief Executive trying to stem anxieties of his 70,000 workforce, we know workers will be worried about their jobs.

Barnet UNISON is looking for a statement from the Council in the event that Capita are unable to continue to run the two Barnet contracts, that Council will initiate plans to transfer the staff back in-house.

Who can we trust?

Since the collapse of Carillion, more news has emerged as to how bad things really were for that company. Furthermore questions are being asked about the role of the external auditors KPMG more here https://www.insider.co.uk/news/watchdog-probe-kpmg-over-carillion-11931818

It has happened before in Barnet……

In 2010 Barnet Homes had commissioned Connaught’s to provide Council Housing Repairs service. Connaught’s went into liquidation. Our members were told they had lost their jobs over a message on a speaker phone. Months earlier Barnet UNISON had held talks with Barnet Homes Chief Executive as it was becoming increasing clear Connaught’s were in serious trouble. There was further problems when it became clear that there was missing pension contributions which needed to be picked up by Barnet Council.

Read more here http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2010/08/19/barnet-unison-members-working-for-connaught-face-uncertain-future/

Footnote: On 26 June 2017 Capita share price was 705.50 now six months later the share price closed today at 202.09 which represents a 72% drop in their share price over a six month period.

On Wednesday 31 January, 2018 the Capita share price opened up at 347 and closed at 182.50 which represents a 47.53% fall in share price.

“Once again the market shows that it is merciless when a company is in trouble. Carillion looks as if it is just the tip of the iceberg. The minute Carillion collapsed I immediately started to look more closely at Capita Share price. I noted that Capita share price had already dropped by around 66% in the last two years. Today seems to have shocked many experts. My concern is for the staff and the local services they provide for Barnet residents. I know from speaking to staff that they are worried and quite understandably cynical about any messages trying to play down what is happening to the company. After the debacle that our former Connaught members went through previously I want to ensure this time that Barnet UNISON does it utmost to try to allay members concerns about their future employment. My view is that this event is a watershed moment for Barnet Council. Please abandon your “love affair” with outsourcing and commence negotiations to return all services back to the Council.” John Burgess, Branch Secretary Barnet UNISON

Links.

1. “NHS England has said it is ‘holding Capita’s feet to the fire’ over poor performance, and GP leaders have called for the service to be taken back under NHS control.”

https://www.gponline.com/bma-demands-assurances-gps-capita-share-price-drops-40/article/1455914

2. “No sensible public authority, whether council, NHS trust, or Whitehall department, would let a contract to a company over which hang as many question marks as hang over Capita.

Procurement chiefs and permanent secretaries should now be poring over their contracts with Capita and making contingency plans. Capita runs payroll in many councils and staff have to be paid, so immediate alternative arrangements should be in place. That costs money, which needs to be factored into the cost of this and future contracts.”

https://www.theguardian.com/public-leaders-network/2018/jan/31/capita-beginning-end-public-service-contracting-councils-privatisation

3. Wave Tata, Capita: You’ve lost mega-contract to rival outsourcer

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/01/16/capita_loses_biggest_contract_to_rival_outsourcing_biz/

4. Ministry of Defence ‘wasted millions on failed computer system’

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jan/14/ministry-of-defence-failed-computer-system

5. Thousands of court cases adjourned due to failures in interpreting services

https://www.theguardian.com/law/2016/may/04/thousands-of-court-cases-adjourned-due-to-failures-in-interpreting-services

Barnet: School budget cuts fight back

Last year there was a great deal of publicity courtesy of the NEU publishing the School budget cuts website https://schoolcuts.org.uk/#!/

Here are some KEY FACTS

  • £2.8bn has been cut from school budgets since 2015
  • £54.0k average cut to primary schools
  • £205.6k average cut to secondary schools

Unless there is a change of government and an end to austerity, then the cuts in schools are going to mean staff are going to face redundancy.

Barnet UNISON wants to organise and support our members facing cuts and redundancies.

For example we are currently supporting our members working in Hendon School where a cuts restructure consultation has begun.

Hendon School proposes 33% cut to the support staff budget

Whilst we are involved in the consultation process we are also running an informal strike ballot of our members at the same time.

As Bob Crow once said:

“If you fight, you won’t always win. If you don’t fight, you will always lose.”

Our branch will always offer full support to our members in schools if they want to fight back. We will commit our resources to organise a robust defence of our member’s jobs and services.

If your school is facing cuts to staffing please make sure you contact the branch on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk ASAP in order we can arrange a visit at your school.

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