Good News! – Pay Cut for Adoption Workers Stopped

North London Business Park, Unison workers go on strike
29/04/15 BP
Credit: Anne-Marie Sanderson

You may recall that a group of workers were due to be TUPE transferred to the North London Regional Adoption Agency at the start of this month. Shockingly they were informed at the last moment that if they transferred they would lose their Recruitment and Retention payment. This was after being part of the work done to deliver a good Ofsted rating. The Council argued this was not part of their terms and conditions. This would have meant a pay cut of 15%! Only when our union stepped in with legal advice to say they would take a court case on this if the Council went ahead, did the Senior Management back down and now these workers will transfer with their usual wages including the R&R.
It is unlawful to inflict a detriment on workers changing their terms and conditions due to a TUPE transfer. This was absolutely the line our Family Services Senior Management were pursuing.
It pays to be in a trade union. These workers went through a difficult time for several weeks and months not knowing what their income was going to become or where they would end up working. However, they stuck it out and acted together patiently waiting for positive news which did in fact come.
Solidarity to those workers!

Call out in solidarity for local democracy in Barnet 30 July 2019

On Tuesday 30 July 2019, 7pm in Hendon Town Hall, Barnet Council will vote on a proposal that in will restrict Barnet residents’ ability to ask questions and speak at future Council Committee meetings.

The London Borough of Barnet has a wealth of community activism which includes Barnet Bloggers (Mr Reasonable, Mrs Angry, Mr Mustard and Barnet Eye) and Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) to name just a few.

Their contributions over the last decade have largely been supportive of the services our members provide.

However, their contribution to future committees will virtually cease if the proposed rule change is passed at Full Council on 30 July 2019.

Barnet residents have responded by setting up a petition entitled “Stop Barnet Council From Gagging Residents”

You and read and sign in solidarity by clicking on this link here

https://t.co/P7sb0e3KNU?amp=1

Barnet UNISON is asking members to show solidarity by joining Barnet residents on Tuesday 30 July outside Hendon Town Hall from 6 pm onwards.

Lest we ever forget the million pound plus fraud committed by a Capita employee

Below is an extract from a report submitted to

Audit Committee 17 July 2018 


Corporate Anti-Fraud Team (CAFT) Annual Report 2018/19

(Source: https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s52410/Appendix%201%20CAFT%20Annual%20Report%201st%20April%202018%2031st%20March%202019.pdf )

2018-19 saw CAFT officers investigate and prosecute an unprecedented internal financial fraud. In Response to his officer resource was diverted from all sections within the team to deal with the investigation. The case was given the name Operation Rouble which subsequently proved to be the most challenging, complex and substantial fraud that Barnet has experienced.

  • The fraud related to two offences of ‘abuse of position’ which were committed by a Capital Investment Manager, employed by Capita and working for Regional Enterprise. The offender created instructions for CHAPS payments in excess of £2 million to be processed in relation to fictitious compulsory purchase orders.
  • The CAFT were notified in December 2017 and utilised their financial investigators powers to obtain tangible evidence which resulted in the offender being arrested and suspended within 24 hours of the investigation being initiated.
  • The criminal aspect of the investigation was evidenced and prepared for prosecution within five months which subsequently led to the successful conclusion of the case in July 2018 which saw the offender being sentenced at Harrow Crown Court to 5 years imprisonment.
  • CAFT has carried on the financial investigation and continues to do so in order to ensure all proceeds of crime are identified and recovered accordingly
  • CAFT has also worked closely with Internal Audit and Finance in relation to recommendation from the external review of financial controls and the ongoing audit testing relating to financial controls.
  • CAFT jointly conducting a payments data analytics exercise with Internal Audit in order to identify irregularities and/or make recommendations for improvement.

Further details of the investigation can be found in the noteworthy investigation section, and full details of the external review into financial control conducted by Grant Thornton is available on the council’s website Financial controls https://www.barnet.gov.uk/citizen-home/council-and-democracy/finance-and-funding/Financial-controls.html


12 months later at Policy and Resources Committee 17 June 2019 Barnet Council decided to keep both Capita contracts largely untouched with a review sometime in the future. 

 

 

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

1 2 3 4 15