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 Bin Workers – 97% vote Yes for strike action

Earlier this month Barnet Council senior management issued an instruction that staff were to go out on some of the rounds with a worker down.

Our members were frustrated and angry at this instruction and their fears for health and safety were being ignored.

Barnet UNISON backed their calls for this management instruction to be stopped.

Unfortunately, so far, management have refused to rescind their instruction.

In the last two weeks there have been a number of meetings with senior officials and Barnet UNISON to seek a resolution.

To date the management instruction is being implemented. This is an instruction which UNISON believes puts our members health and safety at risk.

Barnet UNISON has carried out an informal ballot in order to test the strength of feeling of the membership.

The ballot closed yesterday.

“The message from the members is very clear. We had a 93% turnout with 97% voting for strike action. In meeting after meeting I have advised senior management that the anger on the shop floor is intensifying for strike action as each day goes by and this management instruction continues. We have a final meeting on Monday 29 January to see if this trade dispute can be resolved.” John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON

Vote of no confidence in Payslip provided by Capita.

Barnet UNISON reps issue a vote no confidence in Payslip provided by Capita for Barnet Council staff.

 

Barnet UNISON branch executive notes:

The Council payslip was changed fundamentally following the Capita takeover of in house back office services. The payslip was changed without any consultation with the trade unions. The new payslip has a lot less information than its predecessor. In an attempt to support members who have had considerable problems with their payslip, Barnet UNISON submitted an alternative payslip to the Council. To date we have had no response. The problems we have had with Capita Pensions are not helped by the inferior payslip provided by Capita.

Barnet UNISON branch executive agreed the following statement:

Barnet UNISON has no confidence in the Payslip currently provided by Capita.

Barnet UNISON to engage with Barnet Council in order to propose Barnet Council to demand that Capita revert back to the former payslip.

Vote of no confidence in Occupational Health Service procured by Capita

Barnet UNISON reps issue a vote no confidence in Occupational Health Service procured by Capita for Barnet Council staff.

Barnet UNISON branch executive notes:

That reps reported that Occupational Health Service which is contracted by Capita to provide a service for Barnet Council staff. Reps reported unacceptable levels of service for staff who will already be under stress as a result of their illness. Reps reported that before the Capita takeover this service was provided by a local GP. Furthermore the meeting was informed Barnet Council schools still use the local GP as does Barnet Homes.

Barnet UNISON branch executive agreed the following statement:

Barnet UNISON has no confidence in the current occupational health service contracted by Capita to provide a service for Barnet Council staff.

Barnet UNISON to engage with Barnet Council to propose the current service is terminated and seek to secure occupational health services from the local GP.

BREAKING NEWS: Insourcing here at Barnet Council!

Last night I attended a Council meeting which was discussing whether to bring back the privatised Parking Service. The inevitable vote was to keep the service in the hands of the private sector despite a valiant attempt by the Barnet Labour councillors for a full business case including an in house option.

Imagine my surprise then delight to hear that another outsourced service is to return to Barnet.

I refer to the Barnet’s Registration and Nationality Service which was outsourced to the London Borough of Brent.

On Monday 11 December 2017 Brent Council Cabinet Committee meeting agreed to end the agreement with Barnet Council which will lead to service being brought back into direct control of the Council.

I know at the time many were incredulous at the decision to outsource this service in 2014, but at the time there seemed to be a race to outsource everything.

Barnet UNISON is pleased with this decision and will be involved in the staff transfer at some time in the not too distant future.

This decision follows another staff transfer of social workers from The Barnet Group back into the Council in December 2017. Earlier this week we heard news of another group of staff transferring from NHS into Family Services.

Barnet UNISON will continue to campaign for all of our members in-house and outsourced.

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