Private sector ripping off the public sector – “can you believe it?”

Yesterday and today the media are reporting another story about contractors ripping off the public purse.

“private security company G4S for overcharging tens of millions of pounds on electronic tagging contracts for offenders.”

This branch has been clear from the start that if you use the private sector you need to have the skills and expertise and resources to manage them. In response to our concerns our council has responded by creating the commissioning council in order to manage the private sector using “relationship management” Who comes up with such jargon? In the real world with stories like G4S and Serco the relationship with all private sector contractors taking public money should be very clear: 

If you are taking public money and you don’t deliver you are not getting paid and if you over charge us then the contract is ripped up and you have to pay, end of story.”

However in order to enforce this you need lots of resources to ensure robust contract monitoring team…..but the catch here is that to do this can mean the business case for outsourcing does not stack up!

So with a history of private sector failures in the public sector what has been the clever thinking? Answer—The Thin Client!

UNISON has written at length about the ‘thin client’ . To put it simply it seeks to reduce the size of the client team down (less people monitoring the contractor) and relies unbelievably upon the contractor reporting itself..?

“You could not make this up but it is true.”

So when you read about G4S (again..Olympics anyone! ) and see they only found out when they started to re-tender, then it shows the ‘light touch’ approach to contract monitoring is simply unacceptable.

Grayling told MPs that G4S and a second major supplier, Serco, had been overcharging on the existing £700m contract, with the Ministry of Justice being billed for non-existent services that dated back to at least 2005 and possibly as long ago as 1999.”

What does the above say about the culture of the contractors who must have know what they were doing?

(Footnote “the market’s instinctive reaction – 8% off Serco’s share price and 5.5% of G4S’s more lowly rated stock.”)

Did the Coalition government promise better control?

I remember back in 2010 government minister Francis Maude saying this in regards the private sector contracts with the govern­ment:

“We will expect you to be transparent in all your dealings with us and for the terms of the contracts we sign with you to go up online.”

Oh dear, not turned out as he hoped and he is now saying

“The public rightly expects government suppliers to meet the highest standards, and for taxpayers’ money to be spent properly and trans­parently. As a result of what the Justice Secretary outlined earlier today, I am launching an immediate review into government-held G4S and Serco contracts.”

You can read more here and here

Your Choice services – more staff leaving and negative impact on staff morale

UNISON has for the last two weeks been trying to establish what plans Your Choice are putting in place for consultation with Parents/Carers.

After Parents/Carers threatened a Judicial Review Your Choice put some of their restructure plans on hold.

However, Your Choice has allowed a sixth of the workforce to go before the consultation begins. This has had a terrible impact on morale of the frontline workforce and we are now receiving news that more staff are finding alternative jobs with others applying to get out of Your Choice services. For instance 60% of staff working in Barnet Independent Living Service have already left the service.

UNISON has asked Your Choice on a number of occasions to provide details of their  consultation plans in order we can try and bring some stability to the workforce. UNISON has advised our members not to leave and wait to hear the outcome of the consultation. Many of our members have provided a quality service and built up strong relationships with services users and carers. It is UNISON’s view that this strength is being undermined by the restructure and worsened by the lack of information sharing. We are concerned that the high turnover of staff in these type of services increases the likelihood of a serious incident in the workplace.

On the Your Choice website here it states: 

Our announcement giving the Board’s decisions on our restructuring proposals said that decisions concerning Valley Way and Supported Living changes will be postponed until a full consultation has been completed.

This will be held with service users, parents and carers of both services.  The Valley Way consultation will be for six weeks, followed immediately by the Supported Living consultation which will be for a further six weeks. The Valley Way invitation and consultation document will be sent out by 12 July, inviting families to personal meetings during the week of 22 July.

We’ll post further updates as we progress.

This provides very little useful information.

UNISON produced a response to the staff consultation which you can read here we are concerned that the stability of the workforce is being further undermined by the lack of information/communication to the workforce and the trade unions.   

Look out for further updates

Your Choice responds back to UNISON

Barnet UNISON submitted a report to Your Choice Barnet on Friday 31 May (to view our report click here)

Below is the response which came in today


Many thanks for your response to our consultation paper. I have responded below to the recommendations you have made in that report:

Recommendation 1 Return YCB services to L B Barnet – We do not believe that returning YCB services to LBB offers value for money for our customers and deals with the original drivers for the creation of Your Choice and therefore we do not agree with this recommendation.

Recommendation 2 Extend block contract – Whilst continuing on a block contract delays the need for some of the proposed changes, ultimately we do not believe that extending the block contract offers value for money, especially as this means LBB paying approximately £1million per year more than the market rate for these services. LBB appear to be satisfied the rates they have set in the marketplace deliver good value for money services and therefore our goal will be to continue to work towards delivering services at this rate. We therefore do not agree with this recommendation.

Recommendation 3 Retain enhancements for staff – We have decided to place this recommendation on hold pending the outcome of consultation with our customers

Recommendation 4 Cease the benchmarking exercise – We should be benchmarking and understanding the costs of delivering our services against our competitors in the marketplace and therefore we seek to continue to undertake this. As previously discussed we will seek to consult over any changes that we wish to make arising from this activity. We therefore do not agree with this recommendation.

Recommendation 5 Delete the post of Director of Social Care – I assume this is the Operations Director post for Your Choice, previously held by Amanda Jackson. I can confirm that this has been deleted.

Recommendation 6 Reinstate fully staffed night shifts – We have decided to place this recommendation on hold pending the outcome of consultation with our customers

Recommendation 7 Provide an undertaking that an independent forensic financial review is carried out to establish business sustainability and viability of YCB – I can confirm that we are satisfied that subject to achieving our overall target of savings, YCB is a sustainable and viable business and therefore do not agree with this recommendation.

Recommendation 8 Require Winterbourne training as mandatory for all Board members and senior management – We obviously already do provide full safeguarding training to all YCB staff and have just undertaken an external audit of our safeguarding policies and procedures which were found to be satisfactory, but I can confirm that we are willing to agree to this recommendation in principle, subject to understanding it in more detail so please lets have a further discussion about this.

In respect of the wider proposed changes I have listed an updated position in respect of these below, that we plan to announce shortly:

Senior management changes – The Board agreed to proceed with the deletion of the posts of Director of Operations at Your Choice and Deputy Manager at Valley Way.  The current manager posts at Community Space, BILS and Supported Living will be deleted to create a single, more senior post.  The recruitment process for this post is in progress.

Middle management changes -The Board agreed to proceed with the introduction of service co-ordinator roles at Community Space, BILS and Supported Living, replacing the previous management posts. The recruitment process for the eight service co-ordinators is in progress.

Co-location of Community Space and BILS -The Board agreed that, due to the poor condition of the Flightways building and the planned demolition, we still need to find an alternative venue – but that Community Space was not the right solution. We will work with families of BILS service users to identify a more suitable location.

Supported Living changes -The Board acknowledged that we had underestimated the impact on service users of the proposals to remove waking nights posts and to split the role of support workers. We therefore need to carry out consultation with families of supported living service users before this can be reconsidered. The recruitment process will be postponed until the new structures are agreed.

Reduction of Valley Way waking nights staff – The Board agreed this was still the preferred proposal but that consultation needs to be undertaken with families of Valley Way service users before this could be implemented.

We are seeking to move forward on the senior and middle management changes from from 1 July 2013, as previously planned and will obviously seek to adhere to all contractual notice periods. For the remaining proposed changes, we will put in place arrangements to consult with our customers on these immediately. Where individuals have agreed voluntary redundancy these will still be honoured, and for those services where further consideration is taking place, at the support worker and assistant support worker level, we will offer individuals the option to remain with the organisation pending the outcome of consultation or to leave as planned. If staff leave, temporary staff will be appointed to ensure service continuity.


Your Choice”




Having heard about the shocking fire of the Muswell Hill Mosque which has left it gutted, Barnet UNISON wishes to express its condemnation of such an act and express our sympathy with those directly affected. It follows the deplorable act of the killing of Lee Rigby 2 weeks ago in Woolwich. The relatives of Lee Rigby appealed for no actions of hatred to be taken against any other members of any community. Their calls have been ignored; racist and fascist organisations are using that event to stoke terror and hatred on our Muslim population. The burning down of the mosque has sinister echoes of the 1930s in Europe when Jewish people were under brutal attack.

There is a desperate attempt here to divide our communities and get us to fight amongst ourselves as Miss Dynamite once said in a song: “avoiding acting to the real shit that’s happening to us”.

As far as this branch is concerned, whatever your religion, the colour of your skin, gender, sexuality, we are all in this together and UNISON respects all its members and the communities we serve.  No one needs to feel that they are despised and worth less. If any members of our branch can go to the vigil (details shown below) tonight to show solidarity with the Somali community, then please do so and let us know. If you can come to the branch office and pick up a UNISON flag to take there, that would be appreciated. Other groups and trade unionists will also be there.

See below the statement from Unite Against Fascism about the vigil and please do consider signing the on line petition from Unite Against Fascism, the first signatories of that statement are shown below.

Diane Abbott MP, Jean Lambert MEP, Brian Simpson MEP, Ken Livingstone former Mayor of London, Bruce Kent, Len Duvall London AM, Murad Qureshi London AM, Reverend Hazel Barkham, Varinder Singh Sikhs Against the EDL, Louise Baldock (Liverpool city councillor), Martin Mitchell (Blackpool councillor)

Victory, Victory how does 400 redundancies equal victory?

“Today is a very sad day in the employment history of Barnet Council. Lord Justice Underhill, sitting in the high court, ruled against a severely disabled Barnet resident, Maria Nash, who challenged the north London council’s proposed contract with Capita on the basis that it failed to consult before outsourcing.

The result is that barring a successful Appeal the contract will be signed with Capita at some point in the not too distant future.

I have seen numerous reports in the media and the word which I take great exception to is the use of “Victory”. In particularly this line:

 “This is a clear and complete victory for the council. We won and our opponents lost.” (Leader Barnet Council 29 April 2013)

For those unfamiliar with the human casualties arsing from this mass outsourcing programme, there are 600 jobs all at risk with at least 400 local jobs at risk of redundancy in the next 12 months as a result of Capita’s plan to relocate jobs to Belfast, Carlisle, Southampton, Blackburn to name but a few locations.

Barnet Council deliberately chose not to include a clause in the tender to include a requirement from the winning contractor to bring jobs into our community. Only last week I had to sit in a Full Council meeting and listen to the Deputy Leader of Barnet Council say the following:

“In Quarter 2 2012/13, Barnet was ranked in second place in London for the total number of ‘high performing and low cost’ services” (Deputy Leader, Barnet Council April 2013)

Up and down the country some politicians are standing shoulder to shoulder with their communities fighting to keep jobs local. BUT here in Barnet our members are saying hard work and loyalty count for nothing.

Our next task will be enter into talks with Capita to try and see if they will reduce the hundreds of redundancies which have already been identified in their plans which won the contract.”

Trolley Hospitals – coming to a community near you!

Dear Patient

Welcome to Trolley Hospital WDCT (aka We Don’t Care Trust).

First we want to thank to the Coalition Government for providing us with the opportunity to earn some “‘Lolly from our Trolley!”

The new regulations in particular Regulation 75 have provided WDCT with an opportunity to make lots of money (lolly) from our latest groundbreaking innovative services known as ‘Trolley Hospitals’

It is such a simple idea. We aim to cuts costs by simply treating patients on their trolleys in corridors, and where possible in the fresh air as it is clear from all the planned ward and or hospital closures queues in NHS hospitals are going to get longer and stretch out into the streets.

We at WDCT thought why not start treating patients on their trolleys whilst they are waiting for the NHS service, that way we will be helping the Coalition Government reduce the cost of the NHS. 

Obviously there will be a charge, after all NHS is no longer free any more.

We prefer cash, but we will be prepared to take your cash point or credit cards. All you have to do is give one of our care shirkers……ooops care workers your security number and we will pop down the cash point and take out the money, whilst you sit in the comfort of your trolley!

Sounds great and we can’t wait to get started.

We have noted that there are a number of hospitals and wards closing across London and we all know what that will mean…….QUEUES and they are going to get bigger and bigger…… so we know we are on to a winner here

Look out for ‘Trolley Hospital’ flyers we hope we will be treating you on a trolley in your community soon. For more details contact and we promise not to get back to you within 365 days.

Trolley Hospitals ‘We are after your Lolly!’

If you would be interested in treating patients on behalf of the Trolley Hospital WDCT, don’t worry you don’t need any qualifications, we will take anyone. Payment will be on commission, no salary or paid annual leave.

Information to all our members on Credit Union

About The Credit Union

The Credit Union is a not for profit co-operative dedicated to promoting saving and dealing with debt. Anyone living or working or studying in Barnet or Camden or City of London or Hackney or Haringey or Islington can now become a member of the credit union.

For more details click on link below

To Apply For Membership click on the link below


“Agency Worker mystery – How many jobs are there?”

UNISON has for the last three years been chasing the Council about transparency about agency figures in order that staff at risk of redundancy are able to have an opportunity to find employment and avoid compulsory redundancy.

Every Friday those council staff art risk of redundancy receive a Redeployment Bulletin. At any one time there may be advertised up to 40 jobs. However, on average at least 50% of these jobs are often in schools.

The Council has a statutory duty when there is a risk of redundancy or a TUPE transfer to provide trade unions agency worker details.

This information is also provided at local industrial relations meetings otherwise known as Area Joint Negotiation and Consultation Committees (JNCC’s)

The last Agency worker list provided to the Trade Unions reported a total of 552.  This figure has been broken down into the following service areas:

·         Adult and Social Care – (85)

·         Chief Executive Services (84)

·         Children’s Services (89)

·         Commercial Assurance (32)

·         Corporate Governance (2)

·         Deputy Chief Executives Services (49)

·         Environment Planning & Regeneration (211)

UNISON has been informed this does not mean that there are 552 vacant posts which are all being filled by Agency workers. However UNISON has been trying to establish how many of these posts are covering actual permanent posts (including fixed term) which could be filled by a member of staff who is at risk of redundancy.

Any UNISON members at risk of redundancy who are concerned that they are not accessing internal job vacancies please contact the branch on 0208 359 2088 or email

Feedback from Tripartite meeting on Monday 28 January

1. G4S still no show

Week Four and still no sign of G4S in our weekly meetings. UNISON was told G4S are taking over the cash collection which is currently provided by the Finance Service. The delay and uncertainty for members is unacceptable. UNISON was informed there would be an update by the end of the week. Deadline has been and gone

2. Staff Handbook/Policies

We were told this would be made available to all NSCSO staff by Wednesday at the latest. Deadline has been and gone..***update it has now arrived. 30 consultation has begun.

3. Capita response to UNISON letter – waiting for a response

4. Barnet Council response to UNISON letter – response due in 10 days

5. “Will I be entitled to my redundancy payment if….”

This is the most frequent question I am, asked and quite frankly it is disappointing that the employment matrix which was shared with UNISON several weeks ago has still not been produced for staff.  It is critical for all staff working across NSCSO to be able to see what their employment options are after the transfer to Capita.

6. Capita Service Presentations

Capita provided presentation for IS/ICT services which they want to roll out for all 8 services transferring to Capita. This was in response to UNISON’s request for more detailed information about the staffing implications of the transfer. Contacgt the branch if this is not shared in your service.

7. “Less consultation – not a good idea”

On Monday the Council announced that they wanted these meetings to be fortnightly. UNISON objected and added that they wanted more meetings to discuss the growing number of concerns being raised by UNISON and our members. This is a TUPE transfer like no other. There are significant numbers of staff at risk of redundancy after transfer. UNISON is seeking to reduce the numbers of staff being made redundant. Reducing the meetings is not going to help this process.

UNISON reps will be turning up at the agreed time and expect to meet with Capita, LBB, Barnet Homes, G4S.

8. Embargoed Tripartite minutes

Members are quite rightly asking for mire details about the Tripartite meetings. I had asked that the minutes of these meetings be provided to staff on the intranet. Astonishingly the Council & Capita opposed this proposal. Last week, UNISON made a proposal that at each meeting the minutes would be agreed and if there were any items that needed to be embargoed they would be removed and the rest of the minutes circulated to staff. Unfortunately this reasonable request was not accepted. UNISON fully supports the transparency agenda and will report back on these meetings. We registered our disappointment about the use of embargoing of Tripartite minutes.

9. Capita Talent Connect

UNSION was informed that the above website which was providing employment opportunities would be ready this week. Deadline has been and gone

UNISON response Adult Social Services consultation

UNISON response to Adults Consultation

UNISON notes the proposed restructure is not about saving money on staff costs but about “cost recycling”. In getting the balance right between “front line” staff and non “front line” staff it should be remembered staff delivering the service are the people making sure services happen, not staff overseeing processes for delivering the service. Sufficient resources for overseeing the work are necessary insofar as they make the “front” end work possible and efficient.

UNISON has already recommended an extended consultation period as the risks associated with getting the structure wrong are high and have direct implications for the quality of care provided to Adults needing support from Social Services. The lack of support within the staff group for this proposal means we continue to make that recommendation.

To view full report click here

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