Beware the “Ides of March” One Barnet Social Care Experiment is not working

Barnet UNISON Press Release: 1 March 2013 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Beware of the “Ides of March” – The One Barnet Social Care Experiment is not working!

Today approximately 170 staff will be presented with a redundancy consultation document (to view click here ) which contains within it the most draconian attack on low paid social care workers since the infamous Fremantle Care workers dispute. The Council Cabinet Committee back in May 2011 agreed to create a Local Authority Trading Company (LATC) named ‘Your Choice’. The transfer of staff to the LATC ‘Your Choice’ took place on 1 February 2012.  At the time the Council website issued the following statement:

“Your Choice Barnet is projected to start delivering a surplus to the council from 2013/14. The surplus is projected to reach £263,000 by 2014/15 and £493,000 by 2015/16.”

Today staff are to be informed that Barnet Homes are having to ‘bail out’ Your Choice with a loan of £1million in order to prevent Barnet Group defaulting on the contract with Barnet Council. The projected surplus figures quoted are clearly not going to materialise.

Last year UNISON submitted several reports on the proposal to create a LATC.  

“The options appraisals and business cases for Adult Services and the Housing Service and the business plan for the LATC have serious weaknesses and the process has been deeply flawed. They Council should not be making decisions on the future of services and public assets based on such poor information, analysis and advice.” (UNISON January 2012)

The proposals contained within the consultation document issued to staff and the trade unions today if implemented will see care worker terms and conditions slashed dramatically. This sends a message to potential new recruits to care work that these jobs are valued less than a shelf stacker in the local supermarket. One of the proposals is to reduce the number of waking night staff.

“For continence issues, those who require changing in the night do not require the use of hoists as they are already in bed.” (Paragraph 4.3).

It takes two staff to safely use a hoist, the implications if the above cut is implemented is that if a service user is incontinent during the night they will have to wait until the morning before they can be helped.

These proposals in our view are de-skilling and reducing management oversight and support at a time when the focus post Francis inquiry is on need for better trained and skilled staff and more supervision.

A ‘Your Choice Care worker said:

“There is a sinister undertow to these proposals. The people who will lose out as always are the vulnerable service users who take second place in what is now a business not care provision”

John Burgess, Branch Secretary said:

“The proposals including within this report are quite frankly unacceptable. The recent decision to outsource back office services to Capita has led to a series of statements from the Council.

we will have £120 million to spend on public services in Barnet which we would not otherwise have. This will help to protect frontline services such as social care and libraries.”

In which case the Council should follow the example set by Stockport Council and bring back these services under the direct control of the Council in order to ensure there is no erosion of service delivery to vulnerable adults in the London Borough of Barnet.”


***** Ends *****

Notes to Editors.

Contact details: John Burgess Barnet UNISON on 07738389569 or 0208 359 2088 or email:


1. Barnet Council Cabinet Agrees to create a Local Authority Trading Company

2. New trading company set to be launched

3. UNISON report on Local Authority Trading Company: Privatising Adults and Housing Services

4. Francis Inquiry

 5. International support for Fremantle workers

6. Fremantle Care workers dispute


7. Stockport Council bring back services in house


8. Chelsea Cares goes into liquidation


Library Redundancies Update

Library Staff were issued with their At Risk of Redundancy letters this week.  Barnet Council still plan to go ahead with their restructure of the library service, although they have altered their plans to include one more Librarian and one more Library Customer Services Officer.

But Management plan to run Barnet Libraries with only seven professional librarians none of whom will work directly with the public. Para-Professional staff will be expected to take up many of the duties now performed by Librarians while suffering a pay cut as Week End Allowance is removed.

UNISON will carry on opposing this restructure and have drawn up a revised version of the Alternative Library Restructure Proposal which will be sent to members in the near future.

UNISON representative will attend the following At Risk Meetings to offer advice and support members:

Children’s’ Librarians         Tuesday        6th    November

Adult Librarians                   Wednesday 8th    November

Bibliographic Services       Thursday     15th     November

Edgware Library                   Wednesday 14th   November

East Finchley Library           Thursday       15th    November

Chipping Barnet Library      Friday            16th   November

UNISON members will be visiting all the libraries in the next few weeks to consult with members on the Library Restructure.

Cornwall Council halts privatisation plan

1. Cornwall Council halts privatisation plan

Cornwall councillors have voted unanimously to halt a deal which would have seen some public jobs and services moved into the private sector.

They voted to review the proposal but also to consider other options.


2. Council’s privatisation plans placed on hold

Plans to sell off Cornwall Council services to a private company are on hold following a debate at New County Hall today.

The controversial proposals had led to a vote of no confidence in former council leader Alec Robertson last week after attempts to push the deal through despite opposition from councillors.

A motion passed by the council yesterday will see the plans put on hold to allow a full investigation of the future of council services to take place


3. Cornwall joint venture plans put on hold

Cornwall Council has called a halt to a major shared services deal after councillors raised concerns about the proposals.

Talks with BT on the creation of a large scale joint venture are to be put on hold and chief executive Kevin Lavery has been asked to carry out a full investigation of alternative methods of delivering services in the future.


4. Cornwall Council leader announces details of new Council Cabinet

The leader of Cornwall Council Jim Currie has announced details of the Council’s new Cabinet.


At today’s meeting of the full Council Mr Currie, who was elected as the Council’s Leader last week, announced that there will be 11 portfolio holders in the new Cabinet.


5. Cornwall privatisation plan on hold

The proposal involved contracting out the running of services including libraries, one stop shops, payroll and IT to private firm BT. At a full council meeting this lunchtime members were asked to vote on a motion for the council to reverse its decision to proceed with a ‘Strategic Partnership for Support Services’ until the majority of councillors supported the idea.

93 councillors voted to approve that motion, none voted against and there 7 abstentions. The council is now expected to look at other options. The privatisation plan proved controversial because full council had already voted against it last month, but the council’s cabinet had continued to pursue the idea.



Our submission to Cabinet Library Strategic Review

This evening Cabinet Committee considers the Library Strategic Review at Hendon Town Hall at 7 pm.

Please find enclosed report sent to all councillors


Dear Councillors

Please find enclosed UNISON response to the Library Strategic Review. I think it is a balanced response to the review.


1.No library branches to be closed, since there is demonstrable support both nationally and locally that the current number of branches remain in place. Also, there are currently legal challenges in regard to Gloucestershire under the 1964 Museum and Libraries Act. The High Court has imposed an injunction on the disposal of library buildings in Gloucestershire and Barnet should therefore respect this status quo until a ruling has been made.


2.If there closures are to be made these should not take place until the plans for any projected replacements are fully funded, signed and agreed by the council.


3.         That no further alteration in the ratio of public-facing and back-office functions take place, and that no posts be deleted until it can be demonstrated that the current levels of service be maintained.


4.The methodology, quantitative and qualitative data of the consultations is fully shared with the staff’s representatives.  Should the quantities of respondents to the consultation requesting changes to the service (e.g. longer opening hours) equal or be less than the numbers indicating they wish to save their libraries from closure, through the consultation and petitions, equal regard should be given to these numbers.


5.The management fully negotiate guidelines, policies and procedures regarding the use of volunteers and with specific reference to the issues of safeguarding and data protection with the trade unions, and that no volunteer be taken on until those negotiations reach a satisfactory conclusion.


6.Before any further changes to the Library Service are shared with the public, agreement should be reached through negotiation with the trade unions regarding changes that impact on the staff’s current hours and working practices

 7.         Staff at libraries directly affected by the implementation of the Library Strategy are provided with full information about their future terms & conditions and locations.

To view full report click here “

Best wishes

John Burgess

Branch Secretary.


Standing up for staff and public services

“We are marching as a community on 26 March….Join us, it is the national interest we all do!

Trade Union members, friends, work colleagues, families, community groups and residents from Barnet are going to march together as a community.”

Join us on Saturday 26th March 2011 and say NO to unfair and unnecessary spending cuts!

We’ll be marching in March to defend our public services from cuts & privatisation:

·         Hospitals

·         Libraries

·         Day centres

·         Youth services

·         Schools

·         Pensions

Meeting places in Barnet:

·         Finchley Central Tube Station—9am -9:15am (sharp)

·         Brent Cross Tube station—9am -9:15am (sharp) UNISON Contact Louis Smyth 07909156552

UNISON’s final meeting place is outside the * Savoy Hotel Strand London, WC2R 0EU from 9:30am till 11am nearest Tube Leicester Square.

March Starts around 11am on from ‘The Embankment’

UNISON contacts John Burgess 07738389569, Helen Davies 07940189807

We require volunteers to help take equipment to the March, carry during and bring it back to the UNISON office. Pick up will be the week prior and drop of ASAP after. If you can help please contact Lorraine on 020 8359 2088 or email:

* = Scene of Peasants Revolt 1381

Westminster UNISON is organising a mass lobby Monday 21st February 2011 at 6pm

Westminster UNISON is organising a mass lobby of the next Westminster Cabinet meeting.

Members and Community Groups are urged to meet up outside

Westminster City Hall, Monday 21st February 2011 at 6pm


As well as a further 201 redundancies, Westminster Council are proposing to:

Reduce Care services to 3,000 vulnerable adults; Cut £200,000 from the Portman Family Centre; Reduce Street Cleansing; Close Play Centres ; Dismiss Youth Workers employed to reduce gang crime ; Change to the Meals on Wheels serviceClose St James’s Library in September and reduce staff in other libraries with self service machines.

And this is just the beginning. The Tri Borough Report cites 50% reduction in management alone. Phases 5a and 5b redundancies will start next week . As Westminster demands reductions in the contract price from its outside contractors, further services will be reduced and more staff will be made redundant.

This week Housing21 issued 361 redundancy letters to the Home Care workers employed to look after Westminster’s most vulnerable residents.

However, Westminster has spent £3,973,952 on 12 temporary staff, all of whom cost  over £500 a day.

The Temporary Head of Regeneration and Partnerships, costs the Council £745 a day and has cost £453,446 for the 608 days worked for the Council.

A Senior Project Manager, costing £600 a day, has cost the Council £852,600 for 1,421 days’ work, while a Senior Business Analyst, costing £521 a day, has cost the Council £827,400 for 1,588 days’ work.

Information released by the Labour Group last week detailing some £74,259 spent on flowers as well as £91,390 spent on media training. Whilst these sums may not seem large, the spend on flowers alone is equal to two average staff posts (excluding on-costs).

Oxford fighting Library closures & Big Soicety

Leave the libraries alone. You don’t understand their value.

Best-selling author Philip Pullman spoke to a packed meeting on 20 January 2011, called to defend Oxfordshire libraries. He gave this inspirational speech, which we are very pleased to co-publish with openDemocracy.

“Here in Oxfordshire we are threatened with the closure of 20 out of our 43 public libraries. Mr Keith Mitchell, the leader of the county council, said in the Oxford Times last week that the cuts are inevitable, and invites us to suggest what we would do instead. What would we cut? Would we sacrifice care for the elderly? Or would youth services feel the axe?

I don’t think we should accept his invitation. It’s not our job to cut services. It’s his job to protect them.

Nor do I think we should respond to the fatuous idea that libraries can stay open if they’re staffed by volunteers. What patronising nonsense. Does he think the job of a librarian is so simple, so empty of content, that anyone can step up and do it for a thank-you and a cup of tea? Does he think that all a librarian does is to tidy the shelves? And who are these volunteers? Who are these people whose lives are so empty, whose time spreads out in front of them like the limitless steppes of central Asia, who have no families to look after, no jobs to do, no responsibilities of any sort, and yet are so wealthy that they can commit hours of their time every week to working for nothing? Who are these volunteers? Do you know anyone who could volunteer their time in this way? If there’s anyone who has the time and the energy to work for nothing in a good cause, they are probably already working for one of the voluntary sector day centres or running a local football team or helping out with the league of friends in a hospital. What’s going to make them stop doing that and start working in a library instead?

You can read the full article here

“Something in the water…….?”

Last Thursday over two hundred six form students marched to the offices of MP Mike Freer last night in a protest over the decision to allow university tuition fees to rise. You can read the report online here.

The previous week a large delegation of students from Middlesex University travelled down to central London to protest about the university tuition fees increases.

The previous months a number of sheltered housing residents (average age 70 y/o) protested outside Hendon Town hall as they began their campaign to oppose the removal of their wardens.

Over the last two months Barnet residents have been running community stalls at the weekends and leafleting streets in Barnet opposing cuts & privatisation proposals.

On 23 September 250 residents and staff turned up at the launch of Barnet Alliance of Public Services

In the last six weeks almost 4,000 people have signed the Save our Libraries petition.

In the past few months 500 council staff attended two Lobbies at Hendon Town Hall

Is there something in the drinking water or are Barnet residents and staff finally waking up to the implications of the Spending Review?

Chris Leary Surrey UNISON on their in-house call Centre

1. What is your name?

Chris Leary

 2. What branch and who do you work for?

I’m a member of the Surrey County branch of UNISON, and I work as an Employee Services Officer for Surrey County Council.

 3. What is your role in the branch?

Communications Officer, Convenor for the Change & Efficiency Directorate and the Chief Executive’s Office, Shared Service Centre & Contact Centre Steward

4. Do you have a call centre?  

Yes, our Contact Centre is based in Conquest House in Kingston upon Thames.

 5. What services does the call centre provide for?

It is the first point of contact for the County Council. It handles queries for Libraries, Registration service, Roads and transport, Schools, childcare and adult education, Adult social care, Children’s social care, recruitment, suppliers and payments for music lessons and the arts service. People can call one number and renew their library book, book a wedding ceremony, report pot holes, vulnerable children and adults to social services, find out about adult education courses in their area, and much more.

6. How long ago has the call centre been in place?

The call centre was established in 2003.

7. How is the new call centre performing?

Excellently. It has won numerous awards for customer service, and is seen as a benchmark throughout the entire public sector for customer service and contact. Just recently it was shortlisted for Best Customer Service in the European Call Centre Awards 2010, placing it alongside blue chip companies such as energy company Scottish Power, insurance firm LV=, telecommunications business Telefonica O2 UK and supermarket chain Tesco.

 8. Is your Council looking to privatise the service?

Not at the moment!

9. Have you got a message for Barnet UNISON customer Service members?

Your bosses might like to tell you that the public sector is bloated and inefficient, but Surrey has shown that to be absolute rubbish. With the right investment and support, public services can more than compete with the “big boys and girls” of the private sector. Keep tall, keep fighting, and show them why public is best!

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