Future Shape – frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

I have attended many meetings with staff across the Council. There have been a number of common questions from staff.

Q. Where did the idea of a Joint Venture for some of our income generating services come from?

A. If you read the 6 May 2008 Cabinet report on pages 15 & 16

“2.3 Strategic partnership

This project supports that outlined in 2.1 and 2.2, by exploring how the council can take forward proposals to develop a major service partnership or Joint Venture Company (JVC) to deliver some of the council’s predominantly income generating services. It will be used as a pilot to inform the development of a special purpose vehicle for wider commissioning and service delivery.

The JVC is a particularly attractive option as it draws on Barnet strengths of being low cost and relatively high performing and its ability to attract significant capital investment through the leverage model. Putting the funds into a JVC model or a similar venture that can trade, will allow the council to focus on building strategic capacity and enable it to focus more effectively on its place shaping role.

 Work has already been done in scoping development services, where potential for a JVC has been identified, so this is an area that is likely to be suitable for an initial pilot. Further scoping will be required across the Council to identify other packages of services, but another potential package could be back office services, including revenues and benefits.”

The ‘work has already been done in scoping development services’ is likely to be the Cabinet briefing paper written in January 2008. The paper identified the possibility of setting up a Joint Venture. It identified four groupings:

Planning and Environmental Protection

Building Control

Planning, Development Management

Enforcement and Appeals

Land Charges

Environmental Health



Environment and Transport







Financial transactional processes – payroll, accounts payable/receivable

HR transactional processes – recruitment, day to day advice

Property management

Facilities management

IT and systems support

Revenue collection







Clearly the list of services is not exhaustive; the remit of the Future Shape project team is to look at all Council services and different models of service provision. The Council have engaged consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to look at current in house services and other possible service delivery options.

Q. Is this just a done deal?


A. I believe no. I think we are going to have a significant say over the future of services in Barnet. The issue for the trade unions and staff is when that process starts. Staff are key to the Future of Barnet Council.


Q. Is it true the data from the PWC spreadsheet will determine whether we are going to be privatised?

 A. I have been assured that this is not the case. Apparently 217 managers completed spreadsheets and the data is being assessed. Further work will be required and a commitment to involve the staff and Trade Unions has been given.

Q. What is the time scale?

A. When reports have to go to Cabinet there are clear timelines to have the report cleared before it is published online, before the Committee. Under current timescales the report would have to have been ready by the end of October in order that it could go through the various checks before publishing. The Trade Unions had understood that it was likely that we would know the basis of the report by the end of October. However last week I heard that this timescale has been extended. It is likely we may not see the report until late November which is obviously a concern.

Q. What is the three year plan?

A. I have not seen any documentation relating to a three year plan; however the Chief Executive did make reference to a three year plan at his visit to speak to staff at the depot several weeks ago.


Q. When could we be privatised?

A. It depends upon what option is chosen for your service. It could be as quick as 6 months to 2 years from March next year.

Q. Why won’t the Council sign up to Trade Unions (Briefing 3) TUPE Plus proposal?

A. Don’t know. I have not had a response to our proposal to safeguard members transferring to the private sector or external organisation. I don’t know what they agree or disagree with in the document. For example in TUPE Plus I want a commitment that any contractor will not offshore work. It is worrying that the Council has not responded to this point and the 13 other points in Briefing 3.



Future Shape – Hot off the Press!

Last night the Trade Unions had their first opportunity to discuss the Future Shape with our Employers (councillors) at the Corporate Joint Negotiation and Consultative Committee (CJNCC).

The meeting did not start well as the Employers initially objected to Dexter Whitfield providing the Committee with a brief commentary on the six briefing papers. Their objection was that we were talking about something which ‘may or may not happen in the future.’ The Employers view was that that until something is produced any discussion would be premature.

The Trade Unions asked for an adjournment to consider this objection.

On our return the Employers made another proposal which allowed debate on the process of Future Shape. Dexter gave a short presentation on the rationale behind the six briefings and reinforced our view that our briefings are about process. We had a positive exchange with councillors on the process and our specific concerns in particular staff and Trade Union fears about this being a privatisation exercise. 

In terms of answers to our Briefings and in particular TUPE PLUS we established at the meeting last night that these will be answered once a model of service delivery is established.

Clearly the Trade Unions felt it would have been better if a commitment to TUPE PLUS could have been made at the start of the process, if only to reassure members that if they do transfer out of the council they will have much better protection of their terms and conditions (t&c’s).  

As a direct result of Trade Unions concerns about process the Leader offered to set up a group to look at the Future Shape process. The group will be composed of elected members from all political parties and Trade Union representation. The Trade Unions supported this proposal and today have requested for this to be actioned as a matter of urgency.

Furthermore, the Chair of the Committee agreed to hold a Special CJNCC before the council cabinet committee on 3 December. The Trade Unions have requested this meeting should take place week commencing 24 November 2008.

Future Shape – TUPE PLUS


Please take the time to read this letter. It deals with employment issues such as TUPE and the impact on your terms and conditions including your pension. It is clear that if the Council genuinely want to make sure none of these private don’t attack your terms and conditions they need to sign up to TUPE PLUS

To read the full document click here 

In house transformation Briefing 5

Key Briefing on In House transformation


The Council should ensure that the Future Shape of the Council programme adopts the key components of this initial transformation strategy:

1.      Innovation and new ways of working: using joint Council/trade union workshops to explore the scope for service innovation and integration, shared services and public-public partnerships and staff and user involvement and empowerment.

2.      Performance comparisons and benchmarking should compare like with like using verifiable and audited performance information.

3.      Development of options must be based on improved and innovative in-house provision reflecting the full potential of the service, not on the current service.

4.      Options appraisal criteria should be amended and based on twelve criteria described below.

5.      In-house bids should be submitted if procurement selected.

6.      An accessible evidence base is prepared to support the development and appraisal of options.

To read the Full Briefing click here

So, it begins..Future shape..Briefings 1&2

This week the Joint Trade unions have submitted two briefing papers in response to the proposals relating to the establishment of a Strategic core in the General Functions Committee 11 September 2008.

Headlines from Briefing 1

Further debate on the strategic functions…”

“Joint employer/trade union forums…..”

“Timetable should be extended to the Cabinet meeting planned for 20 January 2009..”

(click here for Full Briefing)

Headlines from Briefing 2

“The Council should endorse and enshrine the following fundamental principles and values for the Future Shape of the Council programme.”

“principles and values should be embedded in the development and appraisal of options”

(Click here for Full Briefing)

Clearly we want to make sure all council services are given a fair chance to compete against alternative models of service provision. This week Pricewaterhouse consultants begin work on developing options for Barnet Councils services. They will be conducting workshops with managers and compiling information, using templates as well as speaking to staff. We have just seen the timescale for this piece of work and feel that it is too tight to enable work on In house transformation to be done across all services.

This is why we are asking for the Options paper to be delayed until the next Cabinet meeting on 20 January 2009. Since the 6 May Cabinet paper was published we have been concerned by the absence of the In house transformation option. In the past when services have been facing privatisation the In house services have not had internal support for the service to remain in house. This is why we are calling for “Joint employer/trade union forums as a matter of urgency”

Directors, Senior managers will be speaking to Pricewaterhouse about what they feel are options for their services and ultimately YOUR jobs!

What are they recommending about YOUR job?

It is important YOU ask questions about YOUR team, YOUR service. Don’t wait until it is too late. YOU need to engage on the FUTURE of YOUR job and service.

We are hoping the “Joint employer/trade union forums” can start quickly. We have identified Planning, Building Control and Parking as one of the first forums to start. BUT this should be taking place across the whole Council workforce.

Please contact the branch if YOUR workplace is not engaging in these discussions.

Make sure you come along to the Barnet UNISON Future Shape meetings , next meeting 11 September 12 until 1.30 pm NLBP.


About us

Barnet UNISON is the biggest trade union representing around 3000 members in Barnet Council, Barnet & Southgate College, schools and contractors. We are an active and successful branch who negotiate to protect and improve our members rights at work and fight for equality in the workplace. Whether you are directly employed by the Council or a company providing services for the Council,

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Health and Safety

Barnet UNISON believes Health and Safety in the workplace is an issue for everyone.

UNISON is at the forefront of major campaigns on stress, repetitive strain injury, back pain and violence. We are campaigning for a new way of working, one that guarantees every worker a safe and healthy workplace.

Barnet UNISON has a network of Health and Safety Representatives who tackle workplace Health and Safety issues by:

  • Making representations to the employer on behalf of members on any health, safety and welfare matter
  • Representing members in consultation with Health and Safety Executive inspectors or other enforcing authorities
  • Inspecting designated workplace areas
  • Investigating any potential hazards, complaints by members and causes of accidents, dangerous occurrences and diseases

The Branch Health and Safety Officer coordinates and supports the work of workplace Health and Safety Representatives. Barnet UNISON are always looking for people who are interested in getting involved so if you want to know more email Hugh Jordan .

Click here for more details on the roles ,responsibilities and training.

Training for Health and Safety reps – click here for details

Fremantle care workers campaign – relaunch 7 August 2008

Despite the best efforts of the branch and our regional officials, Fremantle are still refusing to make any reasonable offer to which we could put to our members.

We re-launched the campaign on Thursday, 7 August 2008, starting with a one hour strike. This is the beginning of a sustained campaign which will include further strike action aimed at restoring the terms and conditions stolen from them.

It is 16 months since Fremantle stole staff’s terms and conditions on 1 April 2007, and almost 2 years since the Fremantle care workers campaign began. The branch has conducted a high profile campaign (reaching a global audience thanks to the efforts of LabourStart) resulting in a successful march and rally in November and a well attended meeting in the House of Commons in December 2007.

Early in 2008, Fremantle care workers had a meeting for members to discuss the future of the campaign. The message from members was clear… “We want back what was stolen!” The Fremantle Stewards Committee were mandated in the meeting to meet with Fremantle to try and reach a negotiated settlement. Unfortunately Fremantle were very clear, they were not prepared to talk about what was stolen. They believe they have already made enough concessions. (their original proposals were to reduce the hourly rate and increase the working week to 39 hours a week instead of 36 along on top of what they stole from our members last year). In effect everything they gained from Single Status was to be removed at the stroke of a pen!

Firstly, and it can not be understated, the sheer loss in income our members have had to endure has proved devastating. Over the last twelve months the numbers of staff working 60 hours a week either for Fremantle or with a second and sometimes a third employer has increased. The introduction by Fremantle of a 56 hour ‘waiver’ is evidence of the scale of the problem. We are understandably concerned about the number of hours staff are working. However we do not know how widespread this practice is, which is why we have written to Fremantle, unfortunately we have not had a reply. Is it safe for staff and resident for Care Workers to work 56+ hours a week? Is it right that care staff should have to work 56 hours or more to earn a living wage in London?

Radio Four’s Jon Manel recently reported on care for the elderly. The government last month launched a consultation on how to fund social care. Whatever is decided surely those who must carry out the direct provision of care to the most vulnerable must be well trained and receive a living wage. It is not politicians, commissioners, service providers (well not until they find themselves in a residential or nursing home) who pay the penalty for undermining the provision of social care it is the service users and carers. It is not just the loss in pay that accounts for why our members do not want to give up hope. It is the knowledge that if they give up their struggle they know that their pension forecast will drop permanently. Leaving them with the added worry of how they will cope when they retire. This is something Fremantle have not really understood, instead they take refuge behind mind games with our members, accusing the branch ‘of promoting its own views’. Such poor analysis of this campaign does note bode well, particularly in the context of future challenges facing Fremantle in Barnet. We know that this contract has led to a dispute with Barnet Council.

Last year the claim was £8.672 million as it has not been resolved the claim must surely have gone above £10 million. Only three of the planned five new homes have been built. Whatever is going on behind closed doors, what is certain is that the contract will surely be re-negotiated. Will the new contract bring an increase in funding for Fremantle? If not, will Fremantle come back to our members for more? No wonder our members are angry and don’t want to give up. UNISON policy is quite clear, organise to resist privatisation and defend our members against attacks on their terms and conditions. Barnet UNISON stands proudly with our member working for Fremantle and will continue to do so as long as they need our help.


Contact us

Barnet UNISON contact details: Barnet UNISON Office, Barnet House, 1255 High Road, Whetsone N20 0EJ Telephone: 020 8359 2088 Email: contactus@barnetunison.org.uk Click here for a map showing our location Who’s Who in Barnet UNISON Barnet UNISON staff Branch Administrator: Lorraine Berry Tel: 020 8359 2088 Email: contactus@barnetunison.org.uk Branch Support Officer: Hem Savla Tel: 020 8359 2090 Email: contactus@barnetunison.org.uk Barnet UNISON Branch

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