BREAKING NEWS… Barnet says Goodbye to Fremantle

Barnet UNISON has just been informed that the Fremantle Trust is to enter into TUPE consultations to hand over the running of its care homes: Meadowside, Apthorp Lodge and Dellfield Court to Your Choice Barnet.

We welcome this transfer as a positive step in the right direction. Your Choice Barnet is 100% owned by the Council which places the running of the homes under greater local accountability. We will do all we can to continue to represent our members who have consistently done their best to deliver support to vulnerable residents, often under difficult circumstances.

We believe there are now real opportunities to address the concerns of staff and residents in a positive and constructive way and look forward to working with Your Choice Barnet to achieve this.

The transfer of staff and services is planned to take place at the beginning of July 2019.

Barnet UNISON has already approached Your Choice Barnet in preparation for formal TUPE transfer meetings which will be looking to take place shortly.

Any members who have any questions please contact the Barnet UNISON branch on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

End.

 

BREAKINGNEWS: No cuts to services for War Memorials and Church yards in Barnet

Barnet UNISON announced last week that our members in Grounds Maintenance had been told they would no longer providing services to a number of War Memorials and Churchyards in Barnet.

See here http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2019/03/28/breakingnews-grounds-maintenance-for-barnet-war-memorials-and-closed-churchyards-ends-1-april-2019/

Once the story broke it seems there has been a ‘change of heart’.

Today, Barnet UNISON have had confirmation that normal services will resume for all of 2019/20.

A big thank you to all who publicly spoke out against the cut it appears to have been helpful.

To those who believe this story was untrue, be careful. Barnet UNISON had very concrete evidence of the cessation of the services.

 

 

Press Release: Barnet UNISON respond to “Worse Choices for People with Disabilities”

Press Release: Barnet UNISON respond to “Worse Choices for People with Disabilities”

https://bit.ly/2FOn6pr

Look at the line E6 on this chart and you may start to understand why disabled activists are going to get extremely angry. Barnet UNISON will support community activists and workers fighting to keep the standards high for people with disabilities.

The struggle and fight for disabled people has always been about “How I can keep in control of my life?”

For a number of years local authorities, including Barnet, have been trying to get people with disabilities out of residential care homes and into a variety of supported living settings. Along the way there have been a number of arguments about whether this is a cost saving exercise (it was always approved if it did save costs) and about whether the quality of support could match that in residential care homes.

Residential care homes always struggled to match their residents’ aspirations to live a “normal life” – to make the kind of choices most of us take for granted, such as when to pop out for a social visit. They now often struggle to match the aspiration of providing quality basic care.

This is the background against which Barnet and other local authorities are looking to save money again, but this time by seeing who they can “persuade” or “encourage” to move into a residential care home. Whichever way it’s looked at, this is about cutting costs and forcing people with disabilities to manage with less, which will limit their aspirations in a way which is wholly unacceptable for the rest of the population.

If there is money to keep ploughing into the pockets of Capita, to keep an extensive and expensive senior officer group running, then there has to be money available to continue offering residents of Barnet a degree of choice and control over how they are supported.

Remember – people with disabilities are any one of us. Most disabled people were not born so, they acquired their disability in later years. What would we choose for ourselves or our parents or our children? This is why we will show solidarity with those campaigning for quality services and defend those providing quality services.

“When I saw the headlines my heart sank. Comrades started contacting me on social media to get our reaction to the very scary proposal outline in the Budget Cuts report which was agreed at Barnet Council meeting on 5 March 2019. I am not surprised this attack on people with disabilities is a direct consequence of the decision of the Council to keep funding the two big Capita contracts. Barnet was contracted to pay Capita £252.2 million by this time however with all the extras they have in fact paid Capita £386.71 that is an extra £134.17 million of taxpayers money. Our branch will be doing our utmost to work with our community to ensure no one is forced into residential care it’s the least we can do. John Burgess, Barnet UNISON Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON.

End.

Notes to Editors

Contact details: John Burgess Barnet UNISON on or 020 8359 2088 or email: john.burgess@barnetunison.org.uk

Background:

Concerns over Barnet Council’s social care plans

https://www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/news/17534511.concerns-over-barnet-councils-social-care-plans/

Tory council set to force disabled people into residential care to cut costs

https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/tory-council-set-to-force-disabled-people-into-residential-care-to-cut-costs/

Bring back Barnet Pension service in-house now

The following email was sent to all Barnet Councillors:

Dear Councillors

I am writing to all of you on behalf of all of my members who are part of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS).

I am writing to all of you for help.

The latest debacle with the failing Pension Administration run by Capita should have been the final straw.

The failings have been well documented in Barnet Council Committee meetings over the last four years. The problems are not going away. Some do then others rear their head.

The service is out of control.

Have you not noticed a pattern?

Capita are always contrite and happy to agree to action plan after action plan.

But year on year, another damning report or comment emerges from either internal or external audit and now the risk to the Triannual Valuation of our Pension Scheme.

The Chair of the Local Pensions Board has gone on record in their Committee meeting and recently at the Pension Fund Committee on 25 March 2019 to say the Pensions Administration service is “appalling”.

Now the Actuaries have joined the ever growing numbers of concerned people who are warning Barnet Council of the serious risks of a failing Pension Administration service.

The Actuaries warned the Council three years ago.

Yet here on the eve of the deadline for the Pensions Regulator (31 March 2019) the serious critically flawed pension data issue has not gone away.

I have listened to the recent Pension Fund Committee (26 March 2019). I did appear to me that the scale of the risk was reflected in the discussions.

I note with concern a quote below from Dan Taylor, director at third-party administrator Trafalgar House.

 “The more poor data you have, the bigger that assumption gets, and the further away you get from the actual known liability position, which could involve employers, sponsors paying more than they have to”

Barnet Council has recently agreed at the Budget Council meeting on 5 March 2019, a Five Year Budget cuts programme, looking to make £70 million of cuts by 2024.

I find it inconceivable that Councillors would not be concerned that as a result of serious failing Pension Administration the Council and other employers would have to contribute more money to the LGPS.

Money that should be spend on vital public services.

Barnet UNISON has over the past five years dealt with some of the following issues impacting directly on our members

  • 2015 Annual Benefit Statements not sent to all by statutory deadline
  • 2016 Annual Benefit Statements not sent to all by statutory deadline
  • 2015 Annual Benefit Statements not all correct – CARE benefit incorrectly based on taxable pay rather than pensionable pay
  • 2016 Annual Benefit Statements not all correct – CARE benefit incorrectly based on taxable pay rather than pensionable pay
  • 2017 Annual Benefit Statements not all accurate – missing previous LGPS membership, more than one statement, CARE benefit based on part pensionable pay
  • Barnet Pension communicated on another local authority’s letterhead showing two different e-mail addresses for communication with them
  • Insufficient details provided for pension calculations to check accuracy

Yet our active members are still experiencing problems.

I am sure all Councillors will have a work or private Pension.

You will all expect that when it is your time to take your pension it should be a stress free experience.

I have to say that is not the experience in Barnet.

The ongoing issues mean that until our members have had their Pension checked by UNISON and it is paid correctly into their bank the stress levels for those retiring are extraordinary high.

Contrary to some comments I have heard councillors make at Committee, we simply did not have these problems with the in-house Pension Administration Team. It is a matter of fact not opinion.

I know many believe that Barnet Council will not end this contract because it would be seen as a major climb down and an admission that the One Barnet Programme has failed.

That is possibly true. However I know there are still quite a few Councillors who were deeply involved in the One Barnet programme. Whilst I and my union disagreed with Barnet Council on One Barnet I do not believe that those voting for One Barnet would have envisaged this happening to the Pension Administration service.

But is has happened.

No amount of action plans will restore the service to the level of excellence it was operating before it was privatised in 2013.

Finally, I am not allowed to address most of the Committees but if I did I would ask Barnet Council “Why are you defending the indefensible?”. Barnet Council needs to instruct senior officers to terminate the Capita contract for Pension Administration and begin the process of bringing the service back in-house before there is further damage to the service and the reputation of the Council.

Background:

  1. Ongoing data problems spark valuation concerns at Barnet http://www.pensions-expert.com/DB-Derisking/Ongoing-data-problems-spark-valuation-concerns-at-Barnet
  2. Barnet in TPR breach as Capita misses payments http://www.pensions-expert.com/DB-Derisking/Barnet-in-TPR-breach-as-Capita-misses-payments
  3. Barnet grapples with data difficulties http://www.pensions-expert.com/DB-Derisking/Barnet-grapples-with-data-difficulties
  4. Regulator fines Barnet over pension failings https://www.ftadviser.com/pensions/2017/07/27/regulator-fines-barnet-over-pension-failings/

Best wishes

John Burgess

Branch Secretary.

Barnet UNISON

0208 359 2088

www.barnetunison.me.uk

Austerity is brutalising the workplace.

This is a short video written and produced by Barnet UNISON to expose the impact of bullying in the workplace.

Our experiences of representation in the workplace are clear. Bullying is rife. Its everywhere and the hand of Austerity is there for all to see. Year on year of cuts to staff has created a work place which is impossible to deliver. Something has to give, sadly it is often our members health and wellbeing.

We made this video for our members with the final message to contact us.

Feel free to share

 

 

Barnet Bin Workers Update: “Where is the money coming from?”

“Where is the money coming from?” or “I thought the Council was in financial trouble?”

At Policy and Resources Committee tonight (20 February 2019) the Corporate Risk register has been produced.

Barnet UNISON notes;  Risk Number STR032

“Implementation of new recycling and waste collection rounds

If issues with the implementation of the new recycling and waste collection rounds continue into the New Year this could lead to further service disruption and financial strain resulting in resident dissatisfaction and reputational damage.

Chief Executive, Statutory Duty,ENV – Modernising Environmental Services

-Ongoing communication with residents on new/revised collection days.-Additional and narrow access vehicles deployed to complete rounds.-Issues with blocked access and assisted collections followed-up.-Additional resources put into Contact Centre to handle increased volume of customer contacts.-Social media monitored and follow-up daily.”

(Source: Corporate Risk Register https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s51240/Appendix%20O%20Corporate%20Risk%20Register.pdf

Barnet UNISON agrees with the risk identified if the Bin collection service does not return to the excellent service standards it was achieving before the Bin collection service was changed on 4 November 2018.

Feedback from the workforce.

Reports have been coming in this year from across our members working in the Bin collection service about an army of agency workers (sometimes as many as 80 agency workers a day) being deployed to ensure the bins are collected here in Barnet. We are also hearing that there is plenty of overtime for any staff wanting to work extra hours. We are hearing reports the service is sometimes working until late into the evening (10 pm) in order to collect bins for that day.

Unfortunately Barnet UNISON has been unsuccessful so far in obtaining the details of agency workers spend for the Bin collection service or the amount of overtime being used to clear the bins.

Our concern as it clearly identified in the Council Corporate Risk register is that it appears the Bin Collection service is heavily reliant on an army of agency workers and overtime.

Barnet UNISON is fully aware of the financial pressures on Council finances as identified in the reports for the Policy and Resources Committee this evening. Barnet UNISON is attending numerous consultation meetings with staff across the Council who are being subjected to cost saving proposals/restructures because the Council needs to make savings.

It is therefore deeply troubling to see the Bin Collection service appear to be relying on army of agency workers and lots of overtime 16 weeks since the service was changed.

In the absence of any information from the Council we note that at Environment Committee on 21 January 2019 it was agreed:

“That the committee noted that a report in relation to the bin collection arrangements be added to the work programme and submitted to the next meeting on 14 March”

(Source: Environment Committee, Monday 21st January, 2019 7.00 pm https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=695&MId=9733 )

Barnet UNISON was present at Environment Committee, Monday 21st January where officers reported that they had spent an extra £250k trying to collect the bins. If our members reports are correct that figure will be a lot higher.

We await to read the detailed report on the Bin collection rounds going to the Environment Committee on Thursday 14 March 2019.

Watch this space……….. 

***Please note that the use of emphasis/underlining is made by Barnet UNISON.

 

#Capita: Southampton Council & the risk of delays

“Southampton staff affected as council ends Capita deal.”

24 July 2018

“Capita has run Southampton’s customer services, HR pay, revenues and benefits, procurement, health and safety, print, post room and IT services for 11 years.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-44937942

Barnet UNISON comment: There was no Council Committee decision publicly made before this announcement until Southampton Council held a Cabinet meeting on 18 September 2018. The report to Cabinet Committee was confidential and only the following was reported:

Cabinet: Tuesday, 18th September, 2018 4.30 pm

Update on Strategic Services Partnership

 Confidential report of the Leader detailing an update on the Strategic Services Partnerships.

Minutes:

(i)  The Service Director for Digital and Business Operations, after consultation with the Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Customer Experience, is authorised to commence formal dispute resolution proceedings over commercial disputes with Capita if required;

(ii)  Adult social care expenditure is included in the Procurement Guarantee for the purposes of the Council’s claim in the event of formal dispute resolution;

(iii)  A ‘no comment’ policy continues to apply while commercial negotiations with Capita continue;

(iv)  The Service Director for Digital and Business Operations is authorised to instruct Capita’s Procurement team to immediately begin procurement of a Revenues and Benefits system and any other systems or products deemed essential to the continued delivery of services to staff, Members and the public, to ensure no service interruption;

(v)  The Service Director for Finance and Commercialisation is authorised to highlight the financial risks posed by the Capita claim and the cost of an arbitration process as necessary in public budget consultation documents, which may need to set out what additional savings are required as a result of not reaching agreement with Capita.

https://www.southampton.gov.uk/modernGov/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=126&MId=3826&Ver=4

The decision to end the contract with Capita was publicly reported the following month in the minutes of the Cabinet Committee.

Cabinet: Tuesday, 16th October, 2018 4.30 pm

UPDATE ON STRATEGIC SERVICES DECISION MADE: (CAB 18/19 21455)

On consideration of the confidential report of the Leader and Clean Growth and Development, Cabinet agreed the following:-

(i) Cabinet approved the recommendations set out in the confidential report.

https://www.southampton.gov.uk/modernGov/documents/s37129/Minutes.pdf

 

What happened next?

TUPE transfer negotiations are currently taking place with staff due to transfer back into Southampton Council by July 2019.

This will mean a large contract with Capita will be terminated and services transferred back to the Council within 10 months.

Barnet UNISON comment:

In our report to Policy and Resources Committee in December 2018 we identified serious risks with the prolonged 18 month review of both Capita contracts.

Feedback from our members of staff vacancies and changes are undermining morale.

It has become evident that vacancies on the Capita contract are not helping provide services for the Council or for residents.

 Capita: Commissioner and User satisfaction.

The table provided above by Barnet Blogger Mr Reasonable paints a worrying picture. Things are getting worse not better and it is not the union saying it, it is the “Users” and the “Commissioners”.

Barnet UNISON comment: It’s not working, Commissioners by their own admission are unable to hold Capita to account. Barnet Council needs to grasp the nettle and announce the end of both contracts and set out a clear transition plan for the return of services and their budgets.

Highways Service.

“Risk ID OP14: Insufficient staff in Highways: “Difficulties in retaining experienced and qualified Highways staff could lead to non-qualified staff being tasked to deliver specialised priority tasks resulting in poor delivery of tasks, non-compliance to statutory design requirements/standards, risk of Injury, insurance.”

(Source: Corporate Risk Register 20 February, 2019, Policy and Resources Committee https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s51205/Appendix%20A%20Corporate%20risk%20register.pdf )

Barnet UNISON comment: This is a high profile service and we can confirm that this risk is still real. The prolonged delay on the decision to bring the service back under Council control is exacerbating the issues and the knock on negative impact will continue to be felt by residents.

 

To view flyer click here Briefing Number 4 – Southampton and

Vote Now To Save Your Job In Your School

 Vote Now To Save Your Job

UNISON is conducting an online ballot of UNISON members working on Schools in England.

 Schools are facing cuts each year that directly impact on our members.

 This has to stop.

The online ballot asks only three questions.

1. Do you believe the government funding cuts are having a negative effect on jobs, workloads, stress, etc. 

2. Do you believe Unison should continue to campaign on school funding for jobs pay and terms and conditions.

3. Would you be prepared to take industrial action to secure more money for jobs, pay, and terms and conditions in schools.

 

It’s that simple. UNISON needs to hear from every single member working in a school.

NOT VOTED YET?

Check that we have your current email address at unison.org.uk/myunison

We will send you an email when the ballot opens explaining how you can vote.

Visit unison.org.uk/speakupforschools to get more information on the issues and a link

to the online ballot.

To vote you will need your date of birth and your National Insurance number or UNISON membership number.

Please have your say – we need to know what you think.

Ballot closes 5 March 

 

*****Cleaners now on London Living Wage*****

Friday 1 February 2019 was a big day for all cleaners working on the outsourced Barnet Council Corporate Cleaning contract.

All cleaners working on the Barnet Corporate Cleaning contract moved from £7.83 an hour to £10.55 an hour.

After 15 years of lobbying to get them on the London Living Wage it has finally happened.

No worker in Barnet Council earns less than LLW and that has been included in the most recent outsourced contracts. 

1 2 3 4 15