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


NSCSO One Barnet – UNISON respond to Measures letter

UNISON has been actively engaged in weekly Tripartite talks with representatives from Capita and the Council. I expect information to be provided to all NSCSO staff which will help provide some clarification on what will be happening after transfer to Capita.

It is important for all members in NSCSO to come along to the UNISON briefings.

Today UNISON submitted a response to the Measures letter submitted by Barnet Council which you can view here

One Barnet:”When something looks too good to be true………”

Between November 2006 and September 2007, ahead of the credit crunch, Barnet Council entered into a number of fixed term deposits worth £27.4 million with two Icelandic banks.  Councillors were advised that the Icelandic banks provided a very attractive and sound return on the investment, they were also informed that these banks had sound strategies, business plans and delivered excellent performance. The investments in these banks were apparently within the Council’s Treasury Management Strategy and Annual Investment Strategy approved by the Cabinet Resources Committee in March 2008.

However, during the same period newspapers were reporting that these very banks were lending huge sums of money to investors (some Icelandic) to buy companies (many UK businesses) and paying eye watering prices which even the Middle Eastern sovereign funds would not pay.

What happened next was £27.4 million pounds of Council assets were frozen in two Icelandic banks following the collapse of the Icelandic banking system.

The point is that nothing is guaranteed and to date the Council has not provided either of the Council Scrutiny Committees of any robust evidence of learning lessons from other Councils.  

It is wrong and naive to claim other Councils did not seek expert advice about drafting contracts. To suggest that by spending millions on expert legal advicethe Council wil be able to hold a multinational company to account and hence guarantee savings is quite frankly frightening.

In the real world everyone (apart from One Barnet Supporters) understands one thing

“Their (multinational companies) lawyers are always bigger and better

than the Councils.

One Barnet – NOT Learning LESSONS from failure

NOT Learning LESSONS from failure

It was simple but clear request from the cross party Business Management Overview & Scrutiny Committee. They asked the Lead Cabinet Member Councillor Rams responsible for One Barnet Programme to bring evidence of when they visited other Councils, who visited them and what they learnt.

What they got was a list, but listen for yourself here

The short clip is under 3minutes long. Have a read of some key extracts

Former Leader Councillor Brian Salinger tried to obtain details of the visits

“When the visits carried out who went on them and what did they learn from them? None of that is contained in here, six pages is desk top research. What members here are looking for are, what have you learnt from meeting up with councils face to face?

To Councillor Rams he asked “Which of these have you visited?

Councillor Rams replied

 “I haven’t visited any of the sites, just by not visiting does not mean you are mot learning from your officers and desktop research”

Chair of Business Management Overview & Scrutiny Committee Councillor Hugh Rayner intervened and said:

“In fairness councillor Rams all we have here is a list of visits it doesn’t say whether they were for one hour, one day, one week, it doesn’t say when they were there, it doesn’t say what benefit we got from them, it doesn’t say who went, how detailed whether it was one person or a team, it’s so sketchy its absolutely useless I’m afraid”

He followed again by saying:

“I think the most important thing is to know what you learnt from each of them, for instance if you went on a visit and you found contracting out wasn’t a good idea maybe that should be noted, that they considered it was not a good idea and but here we don’t know.”

After four and half years of Future Shape/EasyCouncil/One Barnet, millions spent on consultants, Ten Conservative Councillors are on the brink of making the biggest political decision since the creation of Barnet Council in 1965, and the Council has still not provided any evidence of lessons learnt.


UNISON report on the Audit scrutiny of the One Barnet NSCSO & DRS Projects:

From: John Burgess
Sent: 20 November 2012 18:03
To: Andreas Ioannidis;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Mittra, Cllr Arjun
Cc: ‘Terry, Stephen’
Subject: UNISON report on the Audit scrutiny of the One Barnet NSCSO & DRS Projects:
Importance: High


Dear Councillor


On Thursday 22 November a report naming the preferred bidder for the NSCSO Project will be published.


Please find enclosed UNISON report entitled ‘Report on the Audit scrutiny of the One Barnet NSCSO & DRS Projects.’

(To view report click here)

The report is accompanied by a number of Appendixes (A- D) some of which are internal audit reports and one is a Health Check report.





In relation to Appendix A &B please note the following:

“This document has been prepared only for London Borough of Barnet Management and solely for the purpose and on the terms and scope agreed with management.  We accept no liability (including for negligence) to anyone else in connection with this document, and it should not be relied upon by any third party.”

As ever if there is a point of clarification or concern please do not hesitate to contact me.

Best wishes

John Burgess

Branch Secretary.


Wake up to the risks of the One Barnet Programme before it is too late

Barnet Council – One Barnet Programme (OBP)

There are two key Council responses to any criticism of the OBP are

We will have a special ‘Flexible contract’ and a genuine ‘Partnership’ with the contractors delivering services to Barnet residents.

Let’s take a look at what Flexible contracts & Partnerships in action.

Somerset County Council is now embroiled in a legal dispute with their Joint Venture Partner Southwest One.

“Somerset County Council preparing for court in escalating conflict with IBM”

This report (to view click here) is going to their Cabinet Committee on Monday 29 October 2012.

The report provides clear evidence that even in dire financial climate just what happens to a partnership.

Somerset Council has and continues to make cuts to services. We see no evidence that the Partners Southwest One and IBM are helping share that burden.

What this report reveals is that the partner has decided to take action against the Council. The Council has been trying to contract manage the Partner and this has resulted in further legal claims by the partner see extract below:

“SWo has issued a legal claim against SCC on this issue. It is paramount that we look after the best interests of Somerset’s tax payers and we will defend SCC’s position. Where standards of quality and performance are not being met, we will take action.

1.2. On 3rd September 2012 SWo served court proceedings against SCC for the Procurement Dispute.

1.3. The history of SWo poor performance is continuing; during 2012 the Client team have been holding SWo to account; resulting in the serving of 8 contractual notices to SWo.

1.4. Over the past 3 weeks SWo have commenced Disputes on several other matters, issuing further financial claims and disputing SCC’s warning notices.

1.5. With a number of escalating Disputes, we need to take action to:”

Here is proof that even when the client team try to hold the partner to account the response from the partner has been to issue further financial claims against the council.

Barnet Council responses to questions from residents and councillors at the recent Business Management Overview & Scrutiny Committee (24 October 2012) were that a flexible contract & good partner will ensure services will not be cut or deteriorate. If there are any problems with a contractor these will be addressed by the client side monitoring team,

You can view the responses made at the above meeting by clicking on the links below

1. Barnet Council’s new Interim Chief Executive, Andrew Travers, explains OneBarnet

2. Hugh Rayner: How can we stop the Council getting screwed in contracts?

3. Rowan Turner aren’t 10 year contracts normal and really without much risk?

4. Brian Salinger on OneBarnet Bus Mgmt OSC 24 Oct 2012

Billion Pounds

The total value of the One Barnet contracts is in excess of a Billion Pounds and tie the council into 10 year contracts.

The Council just doesn’t appear to be taking the concerns about the risks seriously by simply stating they can control and hold to account massive multinational companies.

This is why we are calling the OBP a Billion Pound Gamble

We believe that it will lead to

·         Poorer services,

·         Rewarding a contractor for a poorer service,

·         Higher charges for services to residents

·         And sadly massive redundancies for staff as the contractor takes employment out of the borough.

You can read all about One Barnet Programme by clicking on the link here

You can help by supporting the campaign and carry out three simple tasks

1. Sign the Stop One Barnet Petition by clicking on this link

2. Join Barnet residents at the One Barnet Question Time meeting on Thursday 8 November at 7 pm. For details of the event click here

3. Pop along to one of the screenings of the film “Barnet – The Billion Pound Gamble” details here

1 2 3 4 100