Barnet Council: Bring Apthorp Lodge back in-house now!

Barnet UNISON is shocked and saddened by the CQC report which details poor staffing levels resulting in poor staff morale and unsafe working practices at Apthorp Lodge. We have already recommenced asking for Apthorp Lodge to be brought back under direct Barnet Council management. We believe this is the safest way forward for all residents and would be of immense benefit to the staff. Care workers do not go to work wanting to do a bad job. They deserve to know that they are working for an employer which manages them well and fairly and which enables them to be the best they can be.

The CQC report is critical of the actions of staff but highlights how poor the staffing ratios are, how little training has been given and how necessary information for staff to carry out their role is either not present or is inadequate. It also highlights positive interactions observed with staff. It is particularly critical of the leadership of Apthorp Lodge although it acknowledges the current manager had only been in place a few weeks before the inspection took place.

“The ‘effective’ audit identified gaps in care plans and a need for greater personalisation. However, the actions required did not have a timescale for completion and had not been delegated to a named member of staff. The actions had not been completed effectively by the time of our inspection in December 2018 despite some of them being recorded as requiring “immediate” action.”

“While people’s routines were described, their preferences were not consistently recorded.”

“The impact of the staffing levels described in the safe domain had a significant impact on people’s dignity. For example, we observed two people, on separate occasions, had soiled themselves and were walking through communal areas of the flats.”

“Three different staff members spoke to them briefly asking them to eat as they passed through the lounge but none of them sat with the person. The person’s meal was removed without them eating a bite.”

“Staff described how they supported the person when distressed, but there was no written guidance which mean new staff, or staff who knew the person less well did not have information about the impact of their health condition on their care needs.”

“Staff had not received the training they needed to perform their roles.”

“We reviewed the rotas for the service and these showed there were not always enough staff deployed to meet people’s needs”

“we saw a care worker gave one person a tablet then walked away before checking the person had actually swallowed their medicine. There was no information to inform this care worker about how to support this person to take their medicines properly.”

“The flooring in some bathrooms was damaged meaning that they could not be effectively cleaned and posed an infection control risk. Where they were not damaged the floors were dirty and water stained.”

The effect on the residents is extremely damaging. Yet if Apthorp Lodge is closed and the residents have to move to another placement, this will prove fatal for many residents as studies show 37% of residents forced to move die within 1 year of that move. Furthermore the distress caused by the move means that their last months and weeks are deeply traumatic.

We believe this is unnecessary and Barnet Council should act to take back control of Apthorp Lodge in order to safeguard the residents there and provide good support and leadership to the staff so that they can do the job to the best of their ability.

Notes to Editors:  

Barnet UNISON submits London Living Wage proposal to Fremantle Trust

“Is ‘Low pay, poor terms & conditions’ good for social care services in Barnet?”

Fremantle Trust propose big cuts to pay for care workers

Fremantle care workers campaign – relaunch 7 August 2008





Update on Community Safety Team restructure

In three days another austerity driven Barnet Council restructure will end with the possibility of another redundancy.

Barnet UNISON had noticed a few discrepancies in the data accompanying the report namely the staffing numbers and the lack of any idea as to what savings were required from this proposal.

This is odd because all the savings are detailed in the latest Medium Terms Financial Strategy report which was recently agreed at the last Policy and Resources Committee on 20 February 2019.

You can view the report here

As you can see when reading the above report there is no identified saving for the Community Safety Team.

Barnet UNISON wrote to Executive Director of Environment and asked the following:

“In paragraph 2.9 it states:

“The proposal decreases the core funded council posts from 9 FTE posts to 7 FTE posts. Whist doing this it also brings the current staff costs in line with the staffing budget and increases the capacity on the front line where there is the most demand.”

As you know there is a potential redundancy with this proposal. In which case it is important to understand what saving is required for this restructure as there isn’t a saving figure provided in this document.

      • What is the saving required for this restructure?

This leads to next question.

I’ve looked at the Savings proposals (attached) going to Policy and Resources Committee on 20 February 2019 and I am unable to find under environment and reference to a saving for Community Safety.

      • Is this proposal linked to the MTFS Budget savings
      • Please can you forward the Equalities Impact assessment?

I’d like to add that Barnet UNISON would support any proposal that ensures the Barnet Community Safety Team has the capacity and structure to deliver on the commissioning, enforcement, strategic, policy and operational statutory community safety functions of the team.

At this stage our view is that the proposed reduction of Community Safety Managers would put this at risk.

Lastly, please confirm that the consultation does conclude on 28 February 2019.”

Last week we received the following response:

“Please note the answers to your email below:

Community Safety would be contributing approximately up to £68,000 to Environment savings.

The proposal is contributing to overall Environment savings.

As there are fewer than 10 staff working in Community Safety it is not appropriate to compare their equality data against the corporate data, both in terms of the limited metrics and from the perspective of inappropriately disclosing information of a sensitive personal nature which would enable the identification of the individuals concerned.

The report will therefore focus upon more general approaches to equalities and fair and equal treatment of staff in the workforce based on protected characteristics. You can expect this before the end of consultation.

I can confirm that consultation concludes 28 February 2019.”

Barnet UNISON responded immediately:

“Thanks for this information.

As there is a risk of redundancy and as a result the level of support for staff may be impacted by the redundancy I am think it important the Council communicates the information provided below.

For consultation to meaningful its important all of the key information is made available to the staff team.

In terms of the equalities impact information. I note that risk number ST027 in the Corporate Risk register quite rightly identifies the risk of not having a dedicated Equalities Officer in place. As you know the post holder has left and the Council has chosen not to replace this post. In which case I do think it important that with the consultation period due to end in just 7 days your report which you state will “focus upon more general approaches to equalities and fair and equal treatment of staff in the workforce based on protected characteristics” will be shared with all staff as a matter of urgency unless of course the Council decides to extend the consultation date.”

Barnet UNISON is unaware if the above responses have been shared with staff. If not it would be a concern as consultation must provide open and transparent information for the workforce in order they may be able to consider any alternatives to redundancy.

Watch this space…….


Austerity is brutalising the workplace.

This is a short video written and produced by Barnet UNISON to expose the impact of bullying in the workplace.

Our experiences of representation in the workplace are clear. Bullying is rife. Its everywhere and the hand of Austerity is there for all to see. Year on year of cuts to staff has created a work place which is impossible to deliver. Something has to give, sadly it is often our members health and wellbeing.

We made this video for our members with the final message to contact us.

Feel free to share



Barnet UNISON sends Capita Briefing Number 4 to all Barnet Councillors

Dear Councillor

Please find attached Barnet UNISON Briefing Number 4 which provides an insight into a number of decisions made by Southampton Council at the following Cabinet Committee meetings on Tuesday, 18th September, 2018 and Tuesday, 16th October, 2018 and the ongoing risks of a 18 month review of both Capita contracts.

Best wishes

John Burgess

Branch Secretary.


0208 359 2088

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View Briefing Number 4 by click link Briefing Number 4 – Southampton and

Barnet Bin Workers Update: “Where is the money coming from?”

“Where is the money coming from?” or “I thought the Council was in financial trouble?”

At Policy and Resources Committee tonight (20 February 2019) the Corporate Risk register has been produced.

Barnet UNISON notes;  Risk Number STR032

“Implementation of new recycling and waste collection rounds

If issues with the implementation of the new recycling and waste collection rounds continue into the New Year this could lead to further service disruption and financial strain resulting in resident dissatisfaction and reputational damage.

Chief Executive, Statutory Duty,ENV – Modernising Environmental Services

-Ongoing communication with residents on new/revised collection days.-Additional and narrow access vehicles deployed to complete rounds.-Issues with blocked access and assisted collections followed-up.-Additional resources put into Contact Centre to handle increased volume of customer contacts.-Social media monitored and follow-up daily.”

(Source: Corporate Risk Register

Barnet UNISON agrees with the risk identified if the Bin collection service does not return to the excellent service standards it was achieving before the Bin collection service was changed on 4 November 2018.

Feedback from the workforce.

Reports have been coming in this year from across our members working in the Bin collection service about an army of agency workers (sometimes as many as 80 agency workers a day) being deployed to ensure the bins are collected here in Barnet. We are also hearing that there is plenty of overtime for any staff wanting to work extra hours. We are hearing reports the service is sometimes working until late into the evening (10 pm) in order to collect bins for that day.

Unfortunately Barnet UNISON has been unsuccessful so far in obtaining the details of agency workers spend for the Bin collection service or the amount of overtime being used to clear the bins.

Our concern as it clearly identified in the Council Corporate Risk register is that it appears the Bin Collection service is heavily reliant on an army of agency workers and overtime.

Barnet UNISON is fully aware of the financial pressures on Council finances as identified in the reports for the Policy and Resources Committee this evening. Barnet UNISON is attending numerous consultation meetings with staff across the Council who are being subjected to cost saving proposals/restructures because the Council needs to make savings.

It is therefore deeply troubling to see the Bin Collection service appear to be relying on army of agency workers and lots of overtime 16 weeks since the service was changed.

In the absence of any information from the Council we note that at Environment Committee on 21 January 2019 it was agreed:

“That the committee noted that a report in relation to the bin collection arrangements be added to the work programme and submitted to the next meeting on 14 March”

(Source: Environment Committee, Monday 21st January, 2019 7.00 pm )

Barnet UNISON was present at Environment Committee, Monday 21st January where officers reported that they had spent an extra £250k trying to collect the bins. If our members reports are correct that figure will be a lot higher.

We await to read the detailed report on the Bin collection rounds going to the Environment Committee on Thursday 14 March 2019.

Watch this space……….. 

***Please note that the use of emphasis/underlining is made by Barnet UNISON.


Pensions: “How bad does it have to get?”

“The Chairman stated that having considered the report and the verbal comments made he was appalled by the state of affairs and requested that this be minuted.  He noted that this had happened before and he noted a case where it appeared that a Member of staff could not retire as there was no admission agreement was in place.  Mr Hopkins noted this and stated that this work should have been performed and taken place in 2017.    The Chairman again stated that he was appalled by this and that he would personally report this point to the Chairman of the Pension Fund Committee.”

(Source: Local pension Board 11 February 2019

“The results show a significant number of ‘critical errors’ that the administrators, Capita, will be required to address before actuarial calculations can begin.”

“Membership data needs to be fit for purpose so that the valuation can proceed. At present, the data held by Capita is not to the required standard meaning that the valuation process cannot commence.”

“As discussed in the report, having satisfactory data quality is necessary to complete the 2019 triennial valuation. Incomplete or suspect data may delay the valuation or require the Actuary to make assumptions that impact on employer contribution rates. Similarly, data issues can lead to delays or errors in benefit awards.”

(Source: Local pension Board 11 February 2019 )

Barnet UNISON comment: First we again stand solidly behind the Chair of the Pension Board. The Pension Administration service has been a prolonged catalogue of errors for the past few years. It has incurred reputational damage to the Council and has been reported twice to the Pensions Regulator.

The recent report on the quality of the data and the risk for the 2019 triennial valuation does beg the question “how badly do Capita have to perform before a service is brought back in-house?”

Our members deserve better as does the Council. In light of the litany of issues it is inexplicable that the Pension Service is only in phase four of the review of Capita services. The Pension Service needs to be brought back into Council control as a matter of urgency.

***Please note that the use of emphasis/underlining is made by Barnet UNISON.

To view the flyer please click on the link below

Pensions back in house



#Capita: Southampton Council & the risk of delays

“Southampton staff affected as council ends Capita deal.”

24 July 2018

“Capita has run Southampton’s customer services, HR pay, revenues and benefits, procurement, health and safety, print, post room and IT services for 11 years.”

Barnet UNISON comment: There was no Council Committee decision publicly made before this announcement until Southampton Council held a Cabinet meeting on 18 September 2018. The report to Cabinet Committee was confidential and only the following was reported:

Cabinet: Tuesday, 18th September, 2018 4.30 pm

Update on Strategic Services Partnership

 Confidential report of the Leader detailing an update on the Strategic Services Partnerships.


(i)  The Service Director for Digital and Business Operations, after consultation with the Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Customer Experience, is authorised to commence formal dispute resolution proceedings over commercial disputes with Capita if required;

(ii)  Adult social care expenditure is included in the Procurement Guarantee for the purposes of the Council’s claim in the event of formal dispute resolution;

(iii)  A ‘no comment’ policy continues to apply while commercial negotiations with Capita continue;

(iv)  The Service Director for Digital and Business Operations is authorised to instruct Capita’s Procurement team to immediately begin procurement of a Revenues and Benefits system and any other systems or products deemed essential to the continued delivery of services to staff, Members and the public, to ensure no service interruption;

(v)  The Service Director for Finance and Commercialisation is authorised to highlight the financial risks posed by the Capita claim and the cost of an arbitration process as necessary in public budget consultation documents, which may need to set out what additional savings are required as a result of not reaching agreement with Capita.

The decision to end the contract with Capita was publicly reported the following month in the minutes of the Cabinet Committee.

Cabinet: Tuesday, 16th October, 2018 4.30 pm


On consideration of the confidential report of the Leader and Clean Growth and Development, Cabinet agreed the following:-

(i) Cabinet approved the recommendations set out in the confidential report.


What happened next?

TUPE transfer negotiations are currently taking place with staff due to transfer back into Southampton Council by July 2019.

This will mean a large contract with Capita will be terminated and services transferred back to the Council within 10 months.

Barnet UNISON comment:

In our report to Policy and Resources Committee in December 2018 we identified serious risks with the prolonged 18 month review of both Capita contracts.

Feedback from our members of staff vacancies and changes are undermining morale.

It has become evident that vacancies on the Capita contract are not helping provide services for the Council or for residents.

 Capita: Commissioner and User satisfaction.

The table provided above by Barnet Blogger Mr Reasonable paints a worrying picture. Things are getting worse not better and it is not the union saying it, it is the “Users” and the “Commissioners”.

Barnet UNISON comment: It’s not working, Commissioners by their own admission are unable to hold Capita to account. Barnet Council needs to grasp the nettle and announce the end of both contracts and set out a clear transition plan for the return of services and their budgets.

Highways Service.

“Risk ID OP14: Insufficient staff in Highways: “Difficulties in retaining experienced and qualified Highways staff could lead to non-qualified staff being tasked to deliver specialised priority tasks resulting in poor delivery of tasks, non-compliance to statutory design requirements/standards, risk of Injury, insurance.”

(Source: Corporate Risk Register 20 February, 2019, Policy and Resources Committee )

Barnet UNISON comment: This is a high profile service and we can confirm that this risk is still real. The prolonged delay on the decision to bring the service back under Council control is exacerbating the issues and the knock on negative impact will continue to be felt by residents.


To view flyer click here Briefing Number 4 – Southampton and

Vote Now To Save Your Job In Your School

 Vote Now To Save Your Job

UNISON is conducting an online ballot of UNISON members working on Schools in England.

 Schools are facing cuts each year that directly impact on our members.

 This has to stop.

The online ballot asks only three questions.

1. Do you believe the government funding cuts are having a negative effect on jobs, workloads, stress, etc. 

2. Do you believe Unison should continue to campaign on school funding for jobs pay and terms and conditions.

3. Would you be prepared to take industrial action to secure more money for jobs, pay, and terms and conditions in schools.


It’s that simple. UNISON needs to hear from every single member working in a school.


Check that we have your current email address at

We will send you an email when the ballot opens explaining how you can vote.

Visit to get more information on the issues and a link

to the online ballot.

To vote you will need your date of birth and your National Insurance number or UNISON membership number.

Please have your say – we need to know what you think.

Ballot closes 5 March 


HEALTH WARNING: Barnet UNISON members “Your Rights At Work” guide.

This short “Your ‘Rights At Work’ guide is intended to alert all of our members working for Barnet Council to their ‘Rights at Work’

We have noticed a significant increase in case work across the Council and in some cases we are hearing reports of workers being told ‘you don’t need to involve the union’.

Please, please do not go into meetings without your trade union rep. It is much harder trying to protect “Your ‘Rights At Work’ if you have gone into earlier meetings without your union rep.

To view our “Your Rights At Work” guide click on link below.

2019.01.31 Rights at work FINAL


Remember this:

“If in doubt ring Barnet UNISON on 0208 359 2088 or email”.


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