The following email was sent to all 63 Barnet Councillors 30 November 2018
Please find attached Barnet UNISON Briefing Number 3 which provides an insight into a number of decisions made by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council at the following Executive Board Committee meetings.
To aid transparency I am including the link to the relevant reports referred to in our Briefing.
- 15 January 2015 Executive Board decision https://democracy.blackburn.gov.uk/Data/Executive%20Board/201501151800/Agenda/Document%209.pdf
- 17 June 2015 Executive Board decision https://democracy.blackburn.gov.uk/Data/Executive%20Board/201506111800/Agenda/Document%208.pdf
- 11 October 2018 Executive Board decision https://democracy.blackburn.gov.uk/documents/s2862/EBD-Executive-Board-Decision-Capita%20Oct18.pdf
The Blackburn with Darwen story covers a 17 year relationship with Capita when local government was in a very different environment unlike today. Take a look at the which services start to come back and the reasons given for the final group of services to be brought back in-house.
0208 359 2088
Earlier this week the Leader of Barnet Council made the following public apology
As a result of the apology Barnet UNISON initiated an emergency ballot of the views of our Bin worker members.
Barnet Bin workers were asked this question:
“Do you think the new round restructure is a success?”
100% of Barnet UNISON Bin workers balloted agreed the new round changes have failed Barnet residents.
Here are some of their comments:
“Simply the rounds are too big, with the addition of flats and restricted access and the result in not finishing within allocated time”
“Too big, too much work and too many Lorries in one road”
“Residents confused, rounds too big to complete, management gave us new rounds without even consulting with us”
“No leadership, no management, no consultation, no hope”
“Too much work, not put out in order for new structure too work, utter chaos”
Before 4th November 2018 all rounds were completed with very few complaints from residents
Since 4th November 2018 a large number of rounds are not being completed within allocated time, leaving bins uncollected, 1000’s of complaints from residents.
On Wednesday 28 November 2018, the Environment Committee were informed that as a result of the Bin changes the Council were paying between £15-20k in overtime per week simply to try and catch up with missed bin collections.
Could this have been avoided?
Yes, Barnet UNISON had flagged up 49 questions provided by our Bin worker members on 5 October 2018, four weeks before the launch of the new service.
Barnet UNISON received no responses to these questions.
Barnet UNISON can only conclude that the Council were confident that our serious and fundamental questions (from the workforce) were already addressed in their proposed new Bin service.
For the last four weeks Barnet UNISON has listened to anecdotal feedback from our members and read the comments made by the public about #Bingate.
Something is fundamentally wrong with the Bin changes. The workforce are working long hours to try and catch up but it is simply not enough. There are only four weeks to Christmas a time where there is always an increase in refuse and recycling.
Yesterday, 22 November 2018 Capita formally commenced a 52 day consultation for the Capita Corporate Programmes team.
The proposal is cut the size of the workforce from 29 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) to 8 FTE which is a 72% cut in the workforce.
Please note: In 2013 when the Corporate Programmes Team transferred to Capita the team was 13.39 FTE.
The staff to work in Barnet on LBB projects and programmes and work across the following teams/areas:
- Technology & Change
- Customer Transformation Programme
Barnet Council have told Capita they have no requirement for a team of this size for 2019.
Barnet UNISON have raised concern that this proposal has clearly arisen as a result of closed door negotiations with Capita. The negotiations are as a result of the Councils decision to review both Capita contracts at a special Policy and Resources Committee on 19 July 2018 which:
“RESOLVED – That the Committee:
- Agrees to review the council’s partnership with Capita, and authorises the Chief Executive to develop a Full Business Case.
- Agrees that the proposed strategic aims underpinning the Full Business Case should be to:
- a) Deliver high quality services;
- b) Secure best value for money for Barnet’s residents; and
- c) Strengthen the council’s strategic control of services.
- Notes the three options identified and considered in more detail in paragraphs 2.4 to 2.7 and Tables 1 to 4.
- Agrees that option 2 – realigning the CSG and DRS contracts to bring back in house those services listed in Table 5 – is the proposed preferred option to be tested in the Full Business Case.
- Agrees that option 3 is fully tested and considered in the Full Business Case.
- Agrees that the Full Business Case should review the joint venture arrangement for the delivery of Development and Regulatory Services.
- Agrees that the Full Business Case should be considered by Policy & Resources Committee, for referral to Council for final decision.”
Barnet UNISON has registered concern that this may be the first of a series of redundancy meetings for Capita employees working in other services provided by Capita as a result of negotiations with Barnet Council. We are also concerned that this could be viewed as an attempt to circumvent any TUPE transfers of staff back to the Council.
Protecting Your Rights at Work.
2018 is shortly to end but not with a whimper.
Restructures and consultations are breaking out across Barnet Council and their Partners
Here are but a few which involve either redundancies, outsourcing, cuts to provision and increased workload:
- Elections Team
- Children Centres in Schools
- Schools Budget cuts
- #Capita Corporate Programmes Team
- Early Years Standards Team
- Council Management Team
- Greenspaces Team
And there are more to come………….
Our advice to our members is very clear.
Do not face this alone.
Please make sure you contact the Barnet UNISON office on 0208 359 2088 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To view Barnet UNISON Briefing Number 2 Part Two click on link below
“Some of the resource saving opportunities identified in the proposed options could be utilised to invest in service delivery and improve the service delivered to Sheffield citizens (and potentially increase council revenue collection).”
“The current partnership agreement has a break clause in 2020 which would enable the Council to end the contract then and avoid the full impact of the termination costs and some of the exist costs. We have considered this option and discounted it because it would prevent us from making progress with our Technology 2020 Strategy in the required timescales. It would also mean that we would be continuing to pay for the ICT Service at the contractual rate for at least another year and we would miss the opportunity to take the savings earlier. Making a decision now would also impact the assessment of the remaining services (see paragraph 1.10).”
The following Barnet UNISON Briefing was sent to all Barnet Council Councillors
Barnet UNISON was bitterly disappointed to read that Barnet Council is now back tracking on a decision agreed at a Special Policy and Resources Committee on 19 July 2018.
The decision was to review the council’s partnership with Capita, and authorise the Chief Executive to develop a Full Business Case for all of the following Options:
- Keep both Capita contracts as they are now.
- Bring some Capita services back in-house from both contracts.
- Bring all the services back in-house from both contracts.
“all three options should be fully tested, consulted on and considered in a Full Business Case before a final decision was made”
Barnet Council has now announced that only these services will be brought back in-house:
“It is intended that the report will recommend that Finance and Accounting (excluding transactional services provided from the Darlington shared service centre) and Strategic HR be transferred back to the council by the end of this financial year (March 2019).”
The announcement goes on to add:
“The arrangements for remaining services are still to be considered and timescales will be confirmed in due course. However, it is also likely that the report will recommend that Highways and Regeneration be reviewed as one of the earlier phases.”
The news may come as a surprise to our members, especially in light to recent fraud and the damning Grant Thornton report which is going to be discussed at the Audit Committee on 22 November.
However, Barnet UNISON is not surprised by the decision: this is Barnet.
Last week we sent a report to all Councillors on the Policy and Resources Committee entitled:
“How bad does it have to get?”
You can read our report here:
The sheer number of Councils ending their contracts with Capita in 2018 is very worrying.
These big contracts are just as complex as the one in Barnet and often involve the same services that Barnet outsourced to Capita.
If Southampton, Sheffield, Blackburn and Birmingham can end contracts with Capita and still make savings then why can’t Barnet?
Barnet UNISON is not giving up on our aim to see all services brought back in-house.
This is why we are directly asking all of our members working for Capita this question:
“If you have any information, questions or concerns that you think we should know about, strictly in confidence, please make urgent contact with the Barnet UNISON office on 0208 359 2088 or email email@example.com”
In the meantime take a look at this infographic below for 2018 only.
“How bad does it have to get?”
To read the review click on the link to our report Capita review Barnet UNISON FINAL
Barnet Council long term accommodation strategy involved staff moving to new build accommodation in Colindale.
The plan was to exit the Barnet House lease early (it expires in 2030) as the Landlord has plans to develop the site. There may even have been a financial payment from the Landlord to request the Council to leave early.
Barnet Council pay approximately £750k rent on the building.
However earlier this year the Landlords plans for Barnet House were rejected
‘Dog kennel’ flats in Barnet will be 40% smaller than Travelodge room
Barnet UNISONs proposal is for Barnet House to be one of the community hubs for staff to work in. Depending on demand there could be opportunities for the Council to rent out office accommodation in order to raise additional income. I understand the cost per square foot at Barnet House is a great deal cheaper NLBP. The site is ideally located to all forms of transport. Barnet UNISON is confident that working from a Barnet House hub would also be popular option for staff across a number of employers and would enable continued access for residents this side of the borough.
Barnet UNISON has submitted this proposal to the Council and will update our members when we have a response.