Hammersmith & Fulham Council is set to return its housing repairs service to council control, bringing to an end the contract with Mitie.
This follows on from winding up Hammersmith and Fulham ALMO, H&F Homes, in 2010.
“We’ve listened to what tenants and leaseholders have told us about the repairs service,” says Cllr Lisa Homan, Cabinet Member for Housing. “That’s why we will now take back direct control of the repair and maintenance for our 17,000 homes.
“We’re determined to provide a safe and secure place to live for our tenants and leaseholders. This decision is the start of a new way to deliver for our residents.”
The council will now set up a new council-run repairs service, a direct labour organisation, which will work alongside a range of new contractors to deliver repairs.
Barnet UNISON have written to Barnet Group Chief Executive asking if Barnet Homes will be doing the same. The private contractor Mears currently provide Council Housing repair service.
Date: Tuesday 6 November 2018
Venue: Committee Room Corridor, House of Commons Westminster, London SW1A 0AA.
Organised by Barnet Alliance for Public Services and Barnet UNISON
Chair: Aditya Chakrabortty Guardian columnist and senior economics commentator
Purpose of Inquiry
To hear evidence from residents, trade unions, politicians on what Capita has done in Barnet and elsewhere and end with a set of recommendations.
A Capita employee managed to steal over £2 million from Barnet Council because neither Capita nor Barnet Council had control of financial matters.
Barnet Council felt obliged to commission Grant Thornton to identify how such a large scale fraud was possible. This project could cost up to half a million pounds of tax payers’ money.
The review found no proper budgetary controls, no checking of basic banking details, inexperienced managers responsible for large amounts of Council money, no written financial procedures and check-lists.
Barnet Council agreed to pay Capita £252.54 million, but has 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.
Front-line services such as street cleansing, waste and recycling, libraries and social care are all facing more and more cuts that are already affecting Barnet residents.
Capita is having difficulty with its own finances
Their Share Price has dropped from £13 a share to under £1.50 a share in the last two years.
On 11th 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.
- Please join #KickOutCapita campaign from 6 pm outside Hendon Town Hall,11th December, The Burroughs, Hendon NW4 4BG.
- Please sign and share our #KickOutCapita petition here https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/kick-out-capita-from-barnet-council-now
Facility Time is something most employers support that includes Barnet Council, Barnet Group, NSL, Capita, Re, ISS, Cambridge Education.
It enables Barnet UNISON to be able to provide support for individual members and group of workers across different team and or services.
Over the years the amount of Facility Time granted has been reduced. Back in 2011 it was reduced by 80% as a result of Austerity policies.
Unfortunately, Austerity Policies have increased the need for UNISON representation across all services and all employers. Here are some of the issues we are currently supporting members on:
- Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination in the workplace
- Performance Appraisal
It is not a secret, Barnet Council are in serious financial trouble as are many other Councils.
This financial crisis does mean that Barnet UNISON members will need more UNISON representation not less.
It is therefore really important that all Barnet UNISON members check their payslips in order to confirm they are still paying their UNISON subscriptions.
If you are not in Barnet UNISON you can join online here https://join.unison.org.uk/
If you have any issues or concerns please contact the Barnet UNISON office on 0208 359 2088 or email email@example.com
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: https://mhfaengland.org/mhfa-centre/campaigns/world-mental-health-day-2018/
Mr Reasonable on why residents need to #KickOutCapita from Barnet Council
Come and listen to John Dix aka Mr Reasonable, explain the ramifications of the recent damning Grant Thornton audit review in language which is clear and easy to understand.
Meeting hosted by Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS)
Tuesday 2nd October
Greek Cypriot Centre, 2 Britannia Rd, London N12 9RU
Why attend the meeting ?
Mr Reasonable had this to say about the audit review:
“The Grant Thornton report highlights Capita’s repeated failure to get basic control systems right, allowing 62 fraudulent transactions to go undetected for 17 months. New systems to address this problem have now been put in place but the report paints a broader picture of institutionalised indifference, weak management and a lack of care. Barnet residents were forced to entrust critical functions of the council to Capita. Five years on, many residents believe that there is no longer any trust in Capita to deliver council services efficiently and securely. They must go.”
This is what John McDonnell Shadow Chancellor had to say about the audit review:
“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.”
You can read the four reviews yourself on the Barnet Council web site
Here is the Barnet UNISON Press release here
“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.
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.
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.
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 https://www.barnet.gov.uk/citizen-home/council-and-democracy/finance-and-funding/Financial-controls.html
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
1.“’Future Shape’ ‘easyCouncil’, ‘One Barnet’ = Failure http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Barnet-UNISON-Capita-report-2018.pdf
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
7. Project Rose: the devastating report Barnet Tories didn’t want you to read
In the midst of all the mass outsourcing over the last decade one group of outsourced Barnet Council workers have not had much coverage.
I speak of the cleaners.
Barnet Council outsourced the Corporate Cleaning Service in 2004.
The Corporate Cleaning service covers most of the main Council office buildings, schools, children centres and Libraries.
It was one of my aims back then to try and get this service back in house or at the very least to ensure the cleaners were paid as a minimum the London Living Wage (LLW).
The Corporate Cleaning Service has changed contractors a number of times since 2004.
It is now delivered by Churchill Service Solutions who are currently only paying £7.83 hour.
- After a number of repeated requests by Barnet UNISON to address about the LLW I can now announce that the Corporate Cleaning contract now includes a clause whereby the winning contractor will now have to pay their cleaners an hourly wage (or equivalent of an hourly wage) equal to the London Living Wage.
The current London Living Wage is £10.20 hour.
This welcome news, whilst we managed to secure the LLW for other outsourced contracts this has been a longstanding fight Barnet UNISON wanted addressing.
The tender process for the Corporate Cleaning contract is currently live and the new contractor announced later this year.
Barnet UNISON welcomes the decision to ensure our cleaners are to be paid the LLW.
UNISON has been in consultation with senior managers every week since the consultation opened in early July. In a consultation ballot 85% of our members agreed with UNISON that the consultation should be extended by 1 month as fundamental to the restructure is a new model of working. So far this has been denied.
Progress has been made on some points, however. UNISON has been keen to avoid redundancies and to avoid staff members experiencing a detriment in their terms and conditions.
- Currently there are a number of senior staff members and managers who are at risk of redundancy.
- There are a number of workers in the Youth Service who would experience a reduction in their pay.
- There is also a feeling that colleagues are being expected to take on very complex work without the pay grade that this should attract.
Consultation feedback strongly recommended that the Advanced Practitioner role be made available to those not holding a social worker qualification. This has been approved and so it is our understanding that the 4.5 social workers will be assimilated but the 1.5 posts leftover will be offered up to otherwise equivalently qualified staff to fill. Over time there will be up to 3 posts at the Advanced Practitioner level made available to otherwise equivalently qualified colleagues.
The proposal is that only 3 of the Team Manager roles should be made available to those who are not qualified as social workers. This means that ALL of those in the ring fence are applying for half the number of posts. In the interests of minimising redundancies we asked that all of the Team Manager roles should be made available to all of those in the ring fence and that over time, as a colleague leaves a post, then up to 3 of those posts would be advertised specifically for social workers. This suggestion has been rejected on the basis that decisions around thresholds are such that social workers are definitely needed in the role at this level from the start.
We are disappointed that no compromise is being offered on this role.
Pay drops and pay rises
The new proposed 0-19 Practitioner Role is causing the most tension. It is graded at “H”.
Youth workers are worried at potentially dropping down in pay as they are on “I” grade.
Family Resilience workers are upset at now leading on CAFs, something they had done prior to 2014 but was removed from their job description following the 2014 restructure and receiving a cut in pay. Now they have this back in their job role but without the pay. They are on “H” grade.
Children’s Centre/ Early Years workers are worried they will be expected to carry out a role for which they feel unqualified and ill-prepared (although they will receive a pay rise) and are concerned they may end up being dismissed through being judged to be incapable. They are on “F”-“G” grade.
The most obvious way of dealing with this would be to leave everyone in the role they currently have but to allocate colleagues so there is a mix of Early Years, Youth workers and Family Resilience workers in each HUB. Everyone continues working with the cohort they are used to working with and for which they have the training and at the level appropriate to their grade. This has been rejected as the expectation will be for each practitioner to be a CAF lead.
After consultation with the colleagues from the different areas who will be assimilated into the new job role we believe the most sensible way forward would be to offer a role at “I” grade which will deal with the more complex work and this will avoid the downgrading of any colleague whilst offering the prospect of pay progression for those already doing complex work without receiving the pay recognition for it. It also means there is a job role for those who do not want to manage the stress of handling the more complex work. This option is being taken seriously by the senior managers but it is unlikely that the number of posts available at “I” grade would be sufficient to recognise the numbers of colleagues who should be at that grade. We are being told that increasing the number of posts at “I” grade will result in redundancies. We believe this is unfair as the Council has certainly made much bigger, and financially much more detrimental, decisions than this. We reject a position which sees colleagues penalised in this way.
We have also asked for the job description to recognise specialisms within the role. We believe this is important for taking this service forward and for attracting and retaining staff to the role. We also believe this takes proper account of the particularities of the different stages of development for children.
This job role is an area of concern which will need further detailed discussion and is unlikely to conclude with agreement by the end of this consultation period. On this basis we will once again appeal for an extension.
A number of services run during periods outside of the standard working day. A local agreement is being looked at to ensure these services continue and that colleagues will receive a proper payment for carrying out these services.
Your UNISON negotiating team
This comprises the Branch Chair and mostly newly appointed reps from Family Resilience Team, Youth Service and now Children’s Centres. They have been making an invaluable contribution to the discussions on behalf of our colleagues and continue to do so. Please keep feeding back to them your concerns and questions.
A UNISON meeting has been organised Tuesday 28th August 12.30pm-1.30pm in Walnut Room, Building 4 NLBP to go over our final position before close of consultation.
Your reps are looking at the feasibility of organising additional UNISON meetings elsewhere in the Barnet in the afternoon of the 28th August or on 29th August. We will advertise the details become clearer.