Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of meetings in order to organise a major restructure and transform the way services are delivered to the public. So far we have been consulted on the general outline as to the future model of the care management end of the service. We had a good attendance in August at the UNISON meeting which resulted in a statement being put out from UNISON to the first stage consultation.
The next stage is proving trickier. Workshops looking at the way a member of the public would get an assessment and what kind of support would be needed from individual social work/ OT teams… (In other words: Who does what when and for how long)… has predictably proven to be less straightforward. Draft Job Profiles are about to be shown to the union and we will be consulting closely with staff members about these to make sure some of the disgraceful exploitation of staff and their goodwill does not continue.
What is the Future Shape of Adult Social Services?
The commissioning side of our service is being increased. Consultations around this service are still ongoing, although the bulk of the consultation has been dealt with. Even before the economic crisis we had discussed the sense of having in-house services to guarantee service delivery. Given the facts that banks have come crashing down bringing some businesses with them and the fact we know already some providers of home care are struggling to find home careworkers to cover the West of the borough we think it makes all the more sense to have in-house provision. We will be taking this up with the Commissioning team.
There have been no statements from the senior management team to say there is no intention to outsource the social work side of Social Services to date. We have asked for them and so far…
These are people who carry out the same tasks as social workers, in Adult Social Care. Without their input the service delivery in the Borough would collapse. They are mostly very experienced, highly thought of and respected within their teams and by their team managers. When they work with a member of the public they stay with that person to work through the issues (health, housing, care, working with family members and more) no matter how complex. The only difference is they would not investigate Adult Protection matters and they do not have a social work qualification. Their pay grade implies that where their work ends the social worker takes over and yet this is far from the practice and far from what is specified in their Role Profiles.
At a meeting with councillors on 7 October 2008, the unions were given to believe there would be movement in a further negotiation around acknowledging there needed to be an overlap in the grades. Regrettably at the negotiation there has been no movement. There is no acknowledgment there needs to be an overlap in grades. Our Community Care Officers have already indicated they are prepared to take industrial action if their pay is not increased in recognition of the complexity of the work they do.
They are far from being alone within Adult Social Services, as people who do complex work which is not recognised in pay. This is very demoralising for our members and all staff across Barnet Council in general.
This is all happening in context of the revolutionary changes to ALL of our jobs that is inherent in the Future Shape project.
To view the Key milestones on Future Shape click here
To: Leader of Barnet Council
Subject: Future Shape
While we appreciate the complexities of modern Local Authorities and the need for them to evolve to meet the future requirements of residents, we call on the council to suspend any proposals made in the report to the 3 December cabinet committee to transfer any services to external providers or private sector companies.
To view full statement click here
You will have received the First Team email sent out to all staff from the Chief Executive this morning in response to what has been reported in the Press this morning
Barnet UNISON welcomes the reassurance given that the financial position of these Icelandic Banks will not have an impact the Council’s ability to pay bills, pensions or salaries.
Clearly this is affecting other Councils and a number of them in London:
Barnet Council: £27m
Hillingdon Council: £20m
Westminster City Council: £17m
Brent Council: £15m
Havering Council: £12.5m
Sutton Council: £5.5m
Haringey Council: unconfirmed
Bromley Council: unconfirmed
Transport for London (TfL):£40m
Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA): £30m
We understand the Council along with a number of other Councils are seeking an urgent meeting with the Chancellor Alistair Darling to request protection for councils as has been given to personal customers of IceSave and other failed Icelandic banks.
Barnet UNISON fully expects to hear the Chancellor provide confirmation that all Councils will be covered and end the insecurity/anxiety this news has caused. It is inconceivable that the Government ‘bail out’ the Private Sector and refuse to offer the same level of support for the ‘Public Sector’.
It is good to see UNISON HQ issue a Press release today urging the government to “protect local authorities from losing millions of council taxpayers’ money held in failing Icelandic banks” (full article click here)
What about our Pension Funds?
Inevitably our Pension funds have been exposed to significant risks especially over the last few months. We have asked for an urgent update on our Pension Fund investments.
Like most Councils we have a number of contractors providing services for Barnet Council. We have asked for a copy of the risk assessment carried out in relation to our contractors. Clearly they are also at risk. If some of our contractors are unable to comply with their contractual obligations; it is important that plans are in place to ensure the Council is able to continue to serve the residents of Barnet.
Over the last two months as the global financial crisis has unravelled on a daily basis members have asked:
‘why are the Council considering going into partnerships with the private sector?’
It is a good point and one that has been made in many of our weekly meetings. In light of recent events and lack of any sign of economic stability we are asking for a postponement of any Future Shape proposals involving the private sector.
To read newsletter click here
Last night we asked that Barnet staff be given an extra days leave this year in recognition of their role in the Council gaining Four Star status. There was a lively debate and it was agreed that HR would go away and cost the proposal.
So hopefully we may have some good news for Council staff!
The Trade Unions have made a request to be able to speak to any reports they submit to General Function’s Committee. This Committee deals with staffing matters such as redundancies, TUPE transfers etc. It is essential that if and when we submit reports, councillors are able to ask questions or seek clarification from the Trade unions.
I can report that both the Leader of the Council and the whole Committee unanimously supported this proposal and agreed to make a recommendation to the Constitutional Committee to approve this request.
Last night the Trade Unions had their first opportunity to discuss the Future Shape with our Employers (councillors) at the Corporate Joint Negotiation and Consultative Committee (CJNCC).
The meeting did not start well as the Employers initially objected to Dexter Whitfield providing the Committee with a brief commentary on the six briefing papers. Their objection was that we were talking about something which ‘may or may not happen in the future.’ The Employers view was that that until something is produced any discussion would be premature.
The Trade Unions asked for an adjournment to consider this objection.
On our return the Employers made another proposal which allowed debate on the process of Future Shape. Dexter gave a short presentation on the rationale behind the six briefings and reinforced our view that our briefings are about process. We had a positive exchange with councillors on the process and our specific concerns in particular staff and Trade Union fears about this being a privatisation exercise.
In terms of answers to our Briefings and in particular TUPE PLUS we established at the meeting last night that these will be answered once a model of service delivery is established.
Clearly the Trade Unions felt it would have been better if a commitment to TUPE PLUS could have been made at the start of the process, if only to reassure members that if they do transfer out of the council they will have much better protection of their terms and conditions (t&c’s).
As a direct result of Trade Unions concerns about process the Leader offered to set up a group to look at the Future Shape process. The group will be composed of elected members from all political parties and Trade Union representation. The Trade Unions supported this proposal and today have requested for this to be actioned as a matter of urgency.
Furthermore, the Chair of the Committee agreed to hold a Special CJNCC before the council cabinet committee on 3 December. The Trade Unions have requested this meeting should take place week commencing 24 November 2008.
We are writing to all our members working for Barnet Council to ask them to sign up to the Pledge. For more details click here
For details of the two meetings