Barnet UNISON Call centre 4 Schools?

One of our biggest challenges is reaching our schools members. Last term we held a school conference and piloted this approach to contacting members. It was a success and we are doing it again our Conference is on Monday 15th February.

Details in our newsletter click here

This evening and next week a number of local reps have agreed to come in to the Barnet UNISON office to ring our members working in schools.


We still need help so if you can come in for a few minutes to help please let the branch know by ringing 0208 359 2088 or email

In the meanwhile our office is buzzing with “good evening, my name is ………”


Slough Council bring ALMO back in house

Slough’s commissioner for neighbourhoods and renewal James Swindlehurst (Lab) said:

“With its primary aim achieved, People 1st becomes an expensive organisation to maintain. Significant savings can be achieved by reducing the number of buildings occupied, and reduce duplication of services.

“The council needs to review how to maximize efficiency, reduce unnecessary overheads and ensure that tenants receive value for money and more investment in front line services.”

“Do you work in Housing needs and Resources or Barnet Homes?”

“Are you aware of the following consultation?”

Public Consultation on the Housing strategy 2010 – 2025 (draft)

Consultation ends 26 February 2010

The Trade Unions are going to submit a response. If you have any comments please send them by Friday 19th February to

easyCouncil continues to attract attention

Barnet Council has full page article in Guardian

or you can go online and read comments

Before Total Place started to grab headlines Future Shape was already looking at efficiencies beyond the council’s budget & workforce. It looked at Local Strategic Partnerships (LSP’s) and whether they could be a tool to deliver greater efficiencies across public services whilst at the same time provide better services to residents. The CIPFA document ‘After the downturn’

see page 8.13 which talks about Total Place as a potential option and in 8.6 poses the question

“Are new powers necessary to enable and or incentivise pooling of resources on a significantly more extensive scale in the public interest.”

The easyCouncil sound bite continues to capture media attention and had provoked a debate about the future of public services. But what does it mean for residents and staff?

“Do you think you should pay for their failure?”

  • Bankers bonuses are back
  • 20% Cut in Public Spending for the next thousand years!
  • 1 in 5 public sector workers could face redundancy

What could it mean to you?

If it is not your job it could be your partners, wife, husband, family, friends working in public services.

BUT it doesn’t stop there ……

losing jobs in public services has a knock on effect…………contractors delivering services for public sector will lose work and have to make cuts so more redundancies.

BUT it doesn’t stop there…..

Local businesses will lose business as unemployment soars in their community and people spend less……..

BUT it doesn’t stop there….

Escalating unemployment creates massive uptake in benefits…………..creates pressure on government, who will be taking less taxes and national insurance……less take up of occupational pensions……creating a massive dependency on future governments in pension credits……

BUT it doesn’t stop there ……………

As result of less income from business community, Councils will be forced to increase council tax…or cut more services?

BUT it doesn’t stop there……………..

No money, no jobs, poor prospects will see enormous rise in the number of people reaching mortgage arrears and forced to sell, leading to a demand for housing…….which will lead to an increase in Housing Benefit claims. Who pays for Housing Benefit?…ultimately it is the tax payer. Those lucky enough to work will be asked to pay more as pressure mounts on government to find funding to keep all these people unemployed!


Financial Arrmageddon is based upon the opinions of financial ‘experts’ (and where were they before the global recession hit?) who are pushing the Armageddon scenario for Public Services. They claim the government must claw back £Billions from the Public Sector in order to clear the massive debt built up supporting the global collapse of the financial institutions!

If you want to read what the experts are saying click here

What do you think?

Freezy easyCouncil…..brrrrrrr

Barnet is freezing…..and it looks like there could be some disruption to services of the rest of the week.

Staff should keep an eye on the council web site

We are getting lots of calls about getting in to work. Staff should make sure they ring their line manager if they are experiencing problems.

Last September the council agreed in September 2009 an Emergency Civil Emergency Plan which you can download on the council web site here

or here


Customer ‘don’t care Services????

Customer ‘don’t care’ Services


Aaaaaarghhhhh…….over the break I had the please of dealing with a private sector organisation as my phone line went dead before Christmas.  I am really, really sensitive about customer services now particularly as it is something Future Shape has identified as some thing that needs to be  improving.

We are being told we need to compare ourselves with the private sector as they set the new standards……I can’t speak for anyone else but I have not been impressed by customer services for some of the biggest providers in particular, the public utilities that used to be under public ownership but have now been sold off to large multi national companies based outside the UK.

I had to ring a 0845 number with my mobile, which concerned me and I had to make several calls all of which ended up in me hanging u p because I was going mad listening to the background music! 

I am sure this is familiar experience for many of you:

Press 1 for ……….

Press 2 for…………….

Press 3 for …………….

Press 4 for…………….

Thank you, in order to help us (?) help you please choose from the following

Press 1 for ……….

Press 2 for …………..

Press 3 for ………………………..

Thank you, we really want to help you, but first can you check you have done the following,

To help us (?) help you please choose from the following

Press 1 for …….

Press 2 for……

Press 3 for……

Or hold and a customer services operator will deal with you shortly……

Next you hear these dreaded words…

“We are experiencing high volume of calls and waiting times could be up to 30 minutes………in the meanwhile…….why not listen to some music while you wait….”

To listen to classical music Press1

To listen to jazz music Press 2

To listen to drum & bass music Press 3

To listen to easy listening music Press 4 

I eventually spoke to a real human being after choosing the option I was interested in purchasing their service (a potential new customer). 

Two visits from an engineer later I now have my phone back and a promise that I will not be paying for my phone for the next two months. I also took the opportunity to provide feedback on their customer services. I pointed out that all I want is a number to ring. I want someone to pick up the phone and sort my problems out. I added that I don’t want or like pushing option buttons and to be honest I have not met anyone who thinks this is good idea. My question is what customer feedback determined this is what we wanted? I have never been asked if I want this sort of customer service and that is for all services I pay for in the private sector. 

I ask this question knowing that this year will see the creation of a Customer Service Organisation see page 99 of the Future Shape Cabinet report

I have been asked by council staff

“Which services or staff will be going into this Organisation?”

I don’t know. I am expecting a meeting to be arranged to discuss sometime soon, but I would guess it could mean all staff who deal directly with customers/residents/citizens for their service. This obviously has implications not just for those staff but also for the service they leave.  

Lots and lots of questions which I hope we will be able to work through this year……………….

For those of you interested in this issue here are few links

1. Guardian

2. Video’s

Do you need to outsource?

Downside of outsourcing


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