Barnet UNISON is supporting World Mental Health Day 10 October

Barnet UNISON is supporting World Mental Health Day 10 October

As the song goes: “Everybody hurts sometimes”


In a number of our services stress and mental health issues account for the leading reasons for sickness absence. These are often services where our members have roles looking after the wellbeing of residents they serve so it can be difficult admitting you’re not coping when you are supposed to be the “strong one”. Please view this link where our own Branch Secretary, John Burgess, gives a personal account of his own experience.

Waste & Recycling Round restructure questions

Barnet UNISON has conducted our own consultation with members about the new round restructure.

We have asked senior management to respond to the questions raised by UNISON members working in Waste and Recycling below:

1. How many vehicles do we currently have available for the new round restructure?

2. How many refuse rounds will there be in the new round restructure and what is the staffing numbers?

3. How many recycling rounds will there be in the new round restructure and what is the staffing numbers?

4. How many Trade rounds will there be in the new round restructure and what is the staffing numbers?

5. How many green waste rounds will there be in the new round restructure and what is the staffing numbers?

6. Currently the Hazard vehicle round operates three days a week. Will it still be operating and what are the crew numbers?

7. Impact Vehicle (IPV) currently operates three days a week what is the plan for this service?

8. Will there still be a Bin delivery and if so what are the staffing numbers?

9. How many shunt vehicles will be available on a daily basis?

10. What rounds will be getting shunts?

11. What is the estimated down time for shunts?

12. How many spare vehicles do we have?

13. What are number of locations per round?

14. How many bins and size per location?

15. Please provide the mileage walked by loaders per round?

16. How will flat refuse be collected?

17. How will flat recycling be collected?

18. What are the days for each postal district?

19. How are the locations with more than one collection day be collected?

20. Will there be maps provided for each new round?

21. When will public be informed?

22. When will staff be consulted and be informed about their round?

23. What are the contingency plans in the event of failure to collect?

24. What is the plan for the ever growing number of new developments to be incorporated into the new round?

25. Will agency staff still be used?

26. What are the estimated travelling times for each round to and from depots to the prescribed five postal districts?

27. What are the estimated tipping times from each area to Hendon or Edmonton?

28. Will black sacks be used, if so who will deliver them?

29. Where access for large vehicles is prohibited how far are staff expected to pull bins from bin areas to vehicle?

30. Have risk assessment’s been done for each new round?

31. Have Round Descriptions been completed for each new round?

32. Will the Round Descriptions include the presence potential hazards and restrictions such as;

  • Parked Vehicles
  • Narrow Lanes
  • Steep Slopes
  • Pedestrian usage
  • Schools/Care Homes and other buildings that may present increase risk, hazards or restrictions Poor Lighting or Visibility

33. Will the Round Descriptions include the nearest locations of:

  • Public/Staff Accessible Toilets
  • Hospitals
  • Nearest refuelling point (in case of emergency)

34. Have the rounds been walked and tested?

35. What is current overall capacity in tonnage for each existing refuse round per day?

36. What is the overall capacity expected in tonnage for each new refuse round per day?

37. What is current overall capacity in tonnage for each existing flat refuse round per day?

38. What is the current overall capacity in tonnage for the existing food waste round per day?

39. What is the current overall capacity in tonnage for RATS/FLASH collection rounds per day?

40. What is the current overall tonnage for each existing recycling round per day?

41. What is the overall capacity expected tonnage for each new recycling round per day?

42. What is the current overall tonnage for the food waste collected by the recycling rounds per day?

44. What is current overall tonnage for all (mid-week and Saturday collection) flat recycling rounds?

45. What is the current overall tonnage for each existing refuse restricted access round per day?

46. What is the current overall tonnage for each existing recycling restricted access round per day?

47. Currently we have restricted access rounds. How will the new round collection service address restricted access to locations?

48. What is the current overall tonnage of the Saturday green waste rounds?

49. Will the crews be alternated between refuse and recycling each week?


Kick out Capita from Barnet Council now petition

Kick out Capita from Barnet Council now


Why is this important?

The recent successfully prosecuted fraud case where a Capita employee stole over £2million from Barnet Council underlines the urgent need for the Council to take back control of all of the former Council services from Capita.

Barnet Council commissioned Grant Thornton (GT) to undertake a major review to identify how such a large scale fraud had been able to take place. This project, called Project Rose, was given a budget of “up to” £500,000 and has been on-going ever since.

The review found:
• Lack of budgetary controls
• Not carrying out basic bank detail checks
• Inexperienced managers responsible for large amounts of money
• Lack of written financial procedures and checklists

Barnet Council agreed to pay Capita £252.54 million

But, Barnet Council have already paid Capita £352.41 million with FIVE more years to go!

Barnet Council is in financial crisis with a budget overspend of £10.3 million this financial year and a funding gap of £66.8 million over the next three years.

Frontline services such as street cleansing, waste and recycling, Libraries, social care are all facing more and more cuts that are already affecting Barnet residents.

Capita Plc are in their own financial crisis.

Their Share Price has dropped from £13 a share to under £1.50 a share in the space of the last two years.

On 11 December 2018, Barnet Council Policy and Resources Committee will decide on whether to end both contracts. We are campaigning that they VOTE to end both contracts and begin the urgent process of taking back control of those services.

Details of the Grant Thornton Review on Capita

Is this the end of Capita in Barnet – Grant Thornton’s report is a devastating critique of Capita’s dismal performance

Project Rose: the devastating report Barnet Tories didn’t want you to read

Damning report slams Capita and financial management at Barnet Council


Barnet UNISON is supporting World Mental Health Day 10 October

This year’s focus is on young people.

There is lots of material free to use for anyone who lives or works with young people

Find ways to support young people’s mental health in a changing world this #WorldMentalHealthDay, with the #HandsUp4HealthyMinds toolkit from MHFA England:




Outsourcing in Barnet : “Thank God we didn’t outsource this time!”

Roll back 18 months and Barnet Council were still fixated about outsourcing.

They had carried out two reviews of both Capita contracts and apart from minor issues the outsourcing was being given a big thumbs up by Councillors and senior officers.

The Passenger Transport Services (PTS) which provides transport for children and adults with disabilities was being reviewed to see if a private contractor could do it cheaper and better.

Barnet UNISON was seriously concerned at the prospect of this service being outsourced along with the rest of Street Scene.

We were preparing to organise strike action.

However, the Council saw the light and PTS was kept in-house.

One of the potential contractors who were being touted as a possible bidder if they wanted to outsource was STAR CARS LIMITED (02993937)

Look what has happened to STAR CARS LIMITED (02993937)

Petitions to Wind Up (Companies)

followed a week later by this:

Appointment of Administrators

Luckily our in-house service was able to step in to provide services thus preventing children from missing their education provision.

In-house services, often underrated, overlooked but very much appreciated by Barnet UNISON.


What more outsourcing in Barnet Council? Really?

“You couldn’t make it up”, is a phrase often bandied about here in Barnet. Sadly it is oh so true.

Last Friday the day the Grant Thornton review about Capita was published on the Barnet Council website I found myself sat in a meeting listening to an assistant director propose to trial outsourcing of the the bulk transfer service.

The bulk transfer service involves the transfer of recyclables to the tip. It’s a small operation but it is done well by hard working committed staff who are always around to help out if and when there is a crisis here in Barnet.

Guess what?

I don’t have the details of the amount of savings they are looking to make because they were not supplied at the meeting. The staff who had no idea this was coming were understandably upset. Not just because they see a pay cut coming but because they were not asked if they had any ideas and when they asked for details there were none.

That is the problem we have in Barnet.

I have sat in too many meetings with senior managers and or consultants who come up with ideas that have not been put to the workforce first. If I had a pound for every time a senior manager told me that they agree that they should consult with the workforce I’d probably be able to bail out the Council.

Back to the discussions.

The workforce without any time or resources immediately started brainstorming ideas for the service. It was impressive to see and management agreed that they would produce the information that had led to the proposal to outsource the service.

Have a guess.

Yes, to date Wednesday 26 September no data has been provided to the workforce and the trade unions. It will be pretty hard now to convince the workforce that this proposal was not dreamt up on the back of a fag packet.

What’s new?

Nothing, this is just another example into the sort of flawed decision making about Council services that I have witnessed first-hand over the past decade. The damning Grant Thornton review has exposed just how services can be vandalised by outsourcing.

The sad thing it is only the staff and the residents who suffer the consequences, the officers who come up with these ideas are never around when the “s**t hits the fan”.

Anyway, we have a meeting this Friday with the staff and management , as far as Barnet UNISON is concerned the idea needs to be dropped. There is a much bigger issue facing Waste and Recycling. The new routes are due to start on 5 November. It is imperative that the new routes work for residents and that is where resources need to be going first.

John Burgess

Branch Secretary


Press Release: Capita Out, Capita Out, Capita Out Out, Out!

For immediate release: Capita Out, Capita Out, Capita Out Out, Out

Grant Thornton was commissioned by the London Borough of Barnet (the Council) to provide support in its response to the discovery of an alleged fraud.

On Friday 21 September 2018 Barnet Council published the Grant Thornton (GT) review

The GT review looked the two Capita contracts below.

Contract 1: The London Borough of Barnet and Capita (BRDS) Limited relating to the provision of Development and Regulatory Services signed 5th August 2013 “DRS”

Contract 2: New Support and Customer Services (NSCSO) Partnering Agreement between the London Borough of Barnet and Capita Business Services Limited. “CSG” contract commenced September 1st 2013.

The combined worth of both contracts over a 10 year period £424 million.

GT review reported:

“The individual is believed to have committed a fraud to a detected value of £2,063,972 by directing CPO payments to personal bank accounts.”

“Our view of both contracts has identified a number of significant weaknesses which may have resulted in contractual breaches. We have identified and reported what we believe are fundamental weaknesses in budgetary control and financial accounting.”

“We note both the DRS contract and the CSG contract detail consequences for the Service Provider of Persistent Breach”.

“Lack of effective review of controls over financial ledgers.

“The monthly and annual budgetary control process provided by CSG Finance for capital projects in Re lack sufficient rigour to challenge unusual transactions and journal entries.”

“Significant financial control weaknesses”

“Poor accounting controls

“Weakened scrutiny over regeneration scheme KPIs”

The GT review goes on to develop five broad themes and referred as control ‘Pillars’. GT had this to say about their ‘Five Pillars’

“In our view, if any one of these controls Pillars was functioning effectively at any point during the period (July 2016 to December 2017) on question it should not have bene possible for the individual to perpetrate the fraud…”

John McDonnell Shadow Chancellor said: “The Grant Thornton (GT) review of the two Capita contracts in Barnet provides yet more evidence of the folly of privatisation of public services. When I read “significant financial control weaknesses…“poor accounting controls” in the GT review it summed up what I have been saying about the current Tory government. They have failed our economy by rewarding their friends in big business, leaving our communities and public services to suffer at the hands their brutal austerity policies. I want to send a personal message of solidarity from the Labour Party Conference to Barnet UNISON and the residents who have fought side by side against a right wing mass outsourcing ideology. I fully support your campaign to #KickOutCapita from Barnet and bring services back in-house.”

Professor Dexter Whitfield who recently published a joint review entitled “’Future Shape’ ‘easyCouncil‘, ‘One Barnet’= Failure” with Barnet UNISON on both Capita contracts had this to say

“The Grant Thornton audit reveals very serious flaws and inadequate operational practice in both the Capita regeneration and back office services contracts. The fact that it took a fraud case to reveal the full nature and scope of these flaws is a damming indictment of Capita and Barnet Councils contract management and monitoring. Furthermore, implementation of the remedial action plan may address the current inadequacies but gives little reassurance that there are no other serious flaws that remain to be exposed. The audit provides further significant evidence for the Council’s review of both contracts and a decision to terminate the Capita contracts and return to in-house provision as a matter of urgency.”

John Burgess, Barnet UNISON Branch Secretary:

“I am shocked but not surprised at the content of the GT review of both Capita contracts. Barnet UNISON predicted that service quality would suffer once the services were privatised however there is little comfort in saying “we told you so” for the hundreds of local jobs in Barnet that were lost as a direct result of Capita winning the contracts. What is surprising, is that it took a fraud, to deliver the forensic scrutiny we have long demanded. Over the past five years frontline in-house services have endured vicious cuts whilst the two Capita contracts have drained badly needed public money, in order to satisfy the needs of Capita shareholders who put profit before quality services to residents. When Capita issued a dramatic profit warning on 31 January 2018, why did the Council not begin discussions to bring services back in-house. It seems clear from the GT review that even at an early stage there were serious endemic financial and budgetary issues. The Council is currently preparing a review of both Capita contracts. It is my view that in light of the GT review, it is untenable that the Council could even consider allowing Capita to run any of their services again. The relationship between the Council and Capita is in my opinion irreversibly broken, it’s over, and now is the time to end it, no expensive divorce bill, Barnet Councils services, and residents have tolerated enough of the mass privatisation ideology. Never mind #Brexit it’s time for #Capzit”.


Notes to Editors.

Contact details: John Burgess Barnet UNISON on or 020 8359 2088 or email:

1.“’Future Shape’ ‘easyCouncil’, ‘One Barnet’ = Failure

2. External Auditors explains Capita Pensions failure

3. How can Barnet Council even think of allowing Capita to run our IT services after this?

4. “Terminate Capita Contracts and Redesign the Council”

5. Is this the end of Capita in Barnet – Grant Thornton’s report is a devastating critique of Capita’s dismal performance.

6. Damning report slams Capita and financial management at Barnet Council…….++The+Barnet+Eye%29

7. Project Rose: the devastating report Barnet Tories didn’t want you to read

Barnet UNISON: Fire Safety statement Barnet House

Dear Colleague

Following the tragic incident at Barnet House on the 15th of August Barnet UNISON raised our concerns about Fire Safety and Security at the building

These concerns included the failure of the alarm to sound throughout the building, including the area where the fire broke out. We also have concerns about the evacuation.

Since then UNISON members who were working in the building, including the area and adjacent meeting rooms where the fire broke have come to us and reported they did not hear a fire alarm, and the first they knew of the emergency was when they saw smoke and flames.  We reported this to the Council who took two weeks to confirm that one of the alarm points in the area where the fire broke out did not work and that the other had a planned 10 second delay.

On the 31st of August the Council removed the faulty fire alarm point leaving a sole alarm point in the area, citing that this fitted in with regulatory minimum requirements.

On the 31st of August UNISON asked the Council:

  1. While the regulations are that one should have to travel no more than 45 metres to reach a fire alarm point, it would be good practice for this distance to be reduced in the reception area on the second floor as people with limited mobility use the area
  2. Why is there a delay between using the single remaining alarm point in the reception area on the second floor and the sounding of the alarm?
  3. Are there other fire alarm points in Barnet House where there is a delay between operation and sounding?
  4. Will the removed fire alarm point be replaced?
  5. When were the fire alarm points in the reception area on the second floor last tested? The last record of the fire alarm point being tested is dated 16.3.18.
  6. How and how often are the fire points tested?
  7. Have the number of fire points been reduced in Barnet House over the last ten years?

To date there has been no response from the Council.

This morning following the Fire Alarm test at Barnet House the Alarm continued to sound in some parts of the Building. This led to some people evacuating the building at the same time as others were entering.  This situation led to confusion and worry for colleagues particularly for those who witnessed the fire in August. We have reports that staff on the third floor were told to evacuate. There was confusion over evacuations instructions on the walkie talkies and some staff evacuated and others didn’t.

The faulty alarm continued from 10.05 am to 10.37am.

Following this UNISON asked the Council why this happened and for confirmation that the fire alarm system was working.

The Council has not given this confirmation.

We therefore have no trust or confidence in the Fire Safety arrangements at Barnet House.

It is UNISON’s view that until the Council prove that the Fire Alarm can be heard in every part of the building and that every fire alarm in the building works then Barnet House is an unsafe place and people should neither work in it nor visit the site.

Our health and safety demands are as follows:

  1. A trade union rep accompanies the testing of each Fire Alarm point in Barnet House.
  2. On the second floor the fire alarm removed is replaced as a matter of urgency
  3. The fire alarms which have a ten second delay are replaced with Fire Alarms that go off immediately.
  4. Immediate alternative working arrangements off site set up immediately pending the resolution of the fire alarm system and evacuation plan issues.


Barnet UNISON has no higher priority than the safety of our members and that of the public whom they serve.

We will update on safety at Barnet House as there are developments.

Please note: 

We have written to John Hooton Chief Executive, Tim Mulvenna Chief Executive Barnet Group, Mark Dally, Partnership Director, Capita.

If you need advice or support please contact the Barnet UNISON office on




IMPORTANT: Update for all Capita Barnet UNISON members

Following discussions with the Council as to the process I can confirm the following information.

  1. Staff consultation to commence end of September
  2. Resident consultation to commence end of September
  3. Full business case to be submitted to a Council committee in December 2018.

What are the consulting on?

Barnet Council is now working up a full business case which will look at bring all services back in-house.

The Full business case will address the following options:

  1. Keep all services with Capita
  2. Bring some services back from both contracts with Capita
  3. Bring all services back from Capita

Barnet UNISON is campaigning on behalf of all of our members for Option 3.

Barnet UNISON is holding a number of branch meetings across Barnet house and NLBP. This is opportunity for Capita Barnet UNISON members to seek advice and ask questions.

Wednesday 12 September 12.30pm Committee Room 1, Barnet House

Friday 14 September 1pm Central room, Building 4, NLBP

Thursday 20 September 12.30pm Room G2, Building 2, NLBP

Friday 21 September 12.30pm Committee room 1, Barnet House

Tuesday 25 September 1pm Central room, Building 4, NLBP

Thursday 27 September 12.30pm Committee room 2, Barnet House

If you have any questions or need to speak to someone please contact the Barnet UNISON office on 0208 359 2088 or email

John Burgess

Branch Secretary




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