Bringing Services Home – Barnet UNISON campaign


Barnet UNISON is proud to announce that we are promoting UNISON Bringing Services Home campaign.

As a branch we have had more than our share of outsourcing. The easy Council experiment was a spectacular failure. It cost more money (yes, we told them it would!) and it did not lead to better services.

In May 2022, Barnet Labour Party won the election with a massive majority and one of their priorities was “Review of contracted out services, in the context of the new administration’s aspiration to bring privatised services back in-house.”

Last year Barnet Labour Party brought back one of the big contracts with Capita and other services on the other Capita contract have been coming back in-house.

The Council is going through a period of healing from the badly advised outsourcing ideology which dominated our Council for over a decade.

Today Barnet UNISON has written to all senior council officers responsible for outsourced contracts seeking a meeting to discuss how and when they are going to review the outsourced service.

Barnet UNISON also want to deal with the Ethnicity Pay Gap which the outsourcing easy Council ideology promoted by always securing the outsourcing option for services which are largely provided by Black workers e.g.

  1. NSL: Parking Services
  2. ISS: Catering Services
  3. Your Choice Barnet: Social Care services
  4. Norse: Cleaning services
  5. Blue 9: Security Services.

All the above services were outsourced under the Tories.

Barnet UNISON positively supports the statement of UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said:

“Black workers make a vital contribution to the health and care sector but are all too often at the bottom of the pay scale as care workers, porters, healthcare assistants and catering staff. They frequently face shocking discrimination, threatening their health, job security and life chances.”

This why Barnet UNISON is determined to work with the Labour Administration to bring back these services into the Council thus enabling real life meaningful changes for a workforce that is often invisible and often low paid and without occupational sick pay.



27 days of strike action as strikers re-ballot for more strikes!

Today is our last day of strike action. Barnet UNISON Mental Health social workers have taken 27 days of strike action which equates to at least 405 LOST working days to Mental Health services. Our members estimate that these days lost mean that at least 4,050 contacts for Mental Health services users have been lost.

It has been 162 days (six months) since UNISON notified Barnet Council of the intention to strike, yet senior management refuse to negotiate despite the obvious serious implications for service users.

Senior management are defending the indefensible they have lost control of the service, and they are doubling down on a strategy that is dragging the Councils reputation into disrepute.

Key points about our campaign.

  • Mental Health social workers support adults who experience mental ill-health to live safely and with dignity.
  • The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman says 4 – 6 weeks is a reasonable wait time for a needs assessment under the Care Act 2014. In Barnet mental health services, the wait time has reached 17 months.
  • 20 staff have left the adult social work teams in the last 18 months, and another has handed in their notice. Despite this, the council refuses to apply the same recruitment and retention payment to adult social workers that it applies to children’s social workers who are in teams with better staff retention rates.
  • Mental health social workers in Barnet are calling for the council to provide a safe service, no waiting lists and fair pay.
  • Mental Health Social Workers have taken 27 days of strike action (we estimate this works out to 405 LOST working days or 4,050 service user contacts LOST for Mental Health service users) since September 2023 but the Chief Executive of Barnet Council still refuses to negotiate.


Yo Ho Ho: Join Barnet UNISON Festive Mental Health social worker picket line

Barnet UNISON Mental Health social workers begin a week of strike action on Monday 4 December.

Please see details of the location and times of our picket line.

What can supporters do?

1. Visit our picket lines all week commencing 4 December to 8 December

between 8- 12.30 pm (see attached graphic).

2. Please sign #BarnetUNISON email campaign to Barnet Council Chief Executive Please click on the link and follow the instructions. Let us know when he replies.

Please send a solidarity message to our strikers by emailing our office at

3. If you are on social media, you can help by liking/sharing or commenting on our many posts. Here are our social media sites.




4. Please write by email or by letter to:

John Hooton, Chief Executive of Barnet Council

Address: London Borough of Barnet; 2 Bristol Avenue; London NW9 4EW

Cllr Barry Rawlings, Leader of Barnet Council

Address: London Borough of Barnet; 2 Bristol Avenue; London NW9 4EW.



Barnet UNISON.



  1. Open letter to Executive Director of Adult Social Care – Mental Health social work dispute.

  1. Open letter to Director of Adult Social Care – Mental Health social work dispute.

  1. Open letter to Cllr Barry Rawlings Leader of Barnet Council

Invitation to House of Commons debate on why social workers are voting to strike

Why are Barnet Council Mental Health social workers taking strike action?

Mental Health Social Workers in Barnet have taken 12 days of strike action and another 14 days are planned in the coming months. But Barnet isn’t the only local authority in which social workers are saying enough is enough. Earlier this year South Gloucestershire social workers became the first branch to successfully ballot for strike action with Barnet, Brighton, Swindon and Leeds social workers all having declared strike action in the following months. Similar issues are being raised by strikers across the country including high caseloads, under-staffing, unsafe services, and unfair pay policies.

13 years of austerity have resulted in huge cuts to local authority statutory services while the impact of covid has contributed to increases in referrals to social care that are forecast to continue for years to come. In such an environment and with no clear political priority being placed on fixing social care, this panel discussion considers topics like the role of social workers in championing better public services and fair pay for workers.

The session will be held on 5th December 2023 at 6.30pm in Committee Room 17, House of Commons.

The event is free, and all are welcome but please book your place by emailing

Co- Chairs: John McDonnell MP and Kerie Anne


  1. Kristiana Heapy
  2. Dan Smart
  3. Corinna Edwards-Colledge
  4. Nana Yabbey-Hagan.

Kerie Anne, Chair of UNISON National Social Care Forum, Branch Secretary, Tower Hamlets UNISON and Families social worker.

Corinna Edwards-Colledge is joint branch secretary of Brighton and Hove UNISON and has worked in local government for over 20 years.  She is also a campaigner and a writer, and is currently leading adult social workers in Brighton on their very first strike action over pay parity.

Kristiana Heapy Kristiana is the Unison team rep in Barnet’s Mental Health Social Work South Team which is currently undertaking strike action. Kristiana qualified as a social worker in 2022, prior to that she worked in the voluntary sector in a number of public policy, campaigning and service delivery roles. In her spare time Kristiana has held voluntary positions for charities focused on access to green space, equality and supporting people experiencing mental ill-health..

Dan Smart is Branch secretary, UNISON South Gloucestershire and an Adulst social worker.

Nana Yabbey-Hagan is a Qualified Social Worker for Children and Families of 10 years. Nana is currently a Team Manager for a Looked After Childrens Team, previously a Team Manager for a frontline Children Protection Team. In addition, Nana is a Practice Educator for Bachelor’s, Masters, Step Up Students/ASYE assessor for Newly Qualified Social Workers (NQSW), University Lecturer and Co-Host of the Social Worker and The Mentor Podcast.

***Please note Barnet UNISON Mental Health Social Workers are taking a whole week of strike action starting Monday 4 December to Friday 8 December.

You are welcome to join our Festive Barnet UNISON Picket line details of location are below.



  1. Open letter to Executive Director of Adult Social Care – Mental Health social work dispute.

  1. Open letter to Director of Adult Social Care – Mental Health social work dispute.

  1. Open letter to Cllr Barry Rawlings Leader of Barnet Council


Open letter to Executive Director of Adult Social Care – Mental Health social work dispute.

Dear Dawn

As a registered social worker, you will be aware of the professional standards set out by our regulatory body, Social Work England, and the expectation that social workers should raise concerns about unsafe practice and should challenge practices, systems, and processes where necessary. We implore you to act on your responsibilities within the social work profession and also those set out within the framework of the law.

The Care Act 2014 is underpinned by the responsibility for local authorities to promote wellbeing and to prevent, delay, and reduce a person’s needs for care and support. We have been reporting that we, on the front line, do not feel that we are meeting this statutory responsibility and are concerned about the safety and wellbeing of the residents of Barnet, the impact on ourselves as regulated professionals, and the impact on Barnet Council. Whilst you will be aware, through our consistent reporting, of our areas of concerns, this open letter stresses a number of the key areas:

The Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman consider it reasonable for a person to wait 4-6 weeks for an assessment. In August 2022 we were raising concerns about staffing levels and that our waiting list for an assessment under the Care Act was up to six months. Since then, the situation has continued to become far more critical, with 14 staff members leaving within a year and the waitlist more than doubling. The staff who left were often the staff members with the most experience, many working their entire 20-30 years careers as social workers within Barnet mental health. This means that our teams have been left without an experienced workforce. In one team, figures demonstrate that when looking at the years of mental health experience of permanent staff, the team has lost 75% of the experience in the past year alone. The impact is that our waiting lists have now drastically increased, reaching up to 15 months, and alarmingly continue to grow. Based on rates of increase, without adequate intervention, we predict that the waiting list will reach two years in 2024.


It should be stressed that these are not people with low level needs for whom it is safe to wait for an assessment. People with high and complex needs are frequently waiting up to 15 months. Without adequate support, people with serious mental disorders are at significantly increased risk of deterioration to their mental state. Far too often our work becomes crisis management, which statutory guidance is clear cannot achieve wellbeing. The Care Act emphasises the need to not wait to respond until people reach crisis point and the need to focus on preventing and delaying needs for care and support, which we are not doing.

When people are left to deteriorate, unmanaged risks to their health and wellbeing put them at significant risk of harm, and even death, whilst awaiting an assessment. This is particularly concerning given that the people we work with have serious mental disorders, which already elevates risk. We further see this in complex presentations of self-neglect owing to a deterioration in mental state. It is particularly concerning that people on our waiting list are deteriorating to such a degree that the risks to their health and wellbeing falls under the scope of safeguarding.

On the subject of safeguardings, the London Multiagency Adult Safeguarding Policy & Procedures set out the target timescale for safeguarding enquiry actions as being undertaken within 20 days. However, in Barnet mental health social care we do not always have capacity to even allocate the case to a worker within this timeframe, let alone undertake enquiry actions. The result is that safeguarding enquiries have, at times, become held by duty workers, which we feel is unsafe, or worse yet, left on the waiting list awaiting capacity to be allocated.


Returning to deterioration, we are all too aware that deterioration means that people’s needs are much greater at point of assessment. We do not see leaving people to deteriorate for up to 15 months as being in line with the responsibility to promote wellbeing nor to prevent needs. It also increases the input needed from workers and much time becomes spent working diligently to engage people who are unwell and to work collaboratively to reduce serious risks to the person’s health and wellbeing. Needing to work so intensely with people means that the progress of work is much slower and this subsequently creates further delay in workers having capacity to pick up new cases. This adds yet further pressure to the waiting list.

The Care Act specifically states that reviews should be undertaken, at a minimum, of every 12 months. However, in Barnet mental health social care, people are not receiving regular reviews in line with this statutory requirement. It is rare that we undertake reviews within this timeframe and Mosaic evidences that many people have not had a review in several years, prior even to the existence of the mental health social care teams. Only those who contact social services to request a review are being added to the active waiting list, though they too join the up-to 15 months wait.


Many of the vulnerable people we work with do not have informal carers and their needs are simply going unmet whilst they await input. However, for those who do have informal carers, we have seen that the significant waiting lists are placing high levels of stress on the carers, which is resulting in carer breakdown or carers not being able to engage in areas central to their own wellbeing, owing to increased pressure on their caring role. This too, we feel is not in line with the responsibilities we have for carers under the Care Act.

The Care Act sets out pathways for young people approaching transition to adult services. However, despite children’s services bringing young people to our attention six months prior to their 18th birthday, we do not have the capacity to allocate these young people a social worker and they are not receiving assessments before they turn 18, which is not in line with the Care Act.

We have been told that there is no money within Barnet Council. However, current practice is costing Barnet Council significantly more money than necessary and reorganising of funds would likely be beneficial in helping to achieve responsibilities under the Care Act. For example, as people are being left to deteriorate for up to 15 months, their needs for care and support are increasing. The subsequent increased packages of care and placements in care homes costs Barnet Council more money than timely care and support that reduces, delays, and prevents a person’s needs. The fact that we are not able to undertake timely reviews means that people who were placed in supported accommodation or care homes as a temporary measure are not receiving input to step them down and promote their independence. This too means Barnet Council is paying for more care than needed, often for many years, at which point the person has become dependent on this care.

As people with severe mental ill-health are not receiving the support they need to remain well and live in the community, they are at increased risk of avoidable, or delayable, deterioration to mental health, which can result in the person’s compulsory admission to mental health hospital. This too has financial implications for Barnet Council in regard to the increased need for Mental Health Act assessments undertaken by Approved Mental Health Professionals. Furthermore, if a person is compulsorily admitted under relevant sections of the Mental Health Act, Barnet Council has financial responsibilities to meet the person’s needs under S.117. Again, as these are not being regularly reviewed, Barnet Council is overspending on care which should not be necessary.

We have been told that there are similar issues across adult social care. However, we have been informed by our colleagues in the non-mental health social care teams within Barnet Council that their waiting lists are nowhere near 15 months. In the absence of any statistics provided by Barnet Council we have no other option than to resort to anecdotal evidence. We have also spoken with our social work colleagues in other London Boroughs who also inform us that their waiting lists are nowhere near 15 months, with one worker, who left Barnet this year, informing us that the waiting list at the London council she now works for is only up to 6 weeks.

The remaining staff are desperately trying to plug the gaps and the result is a significant impact on staffs’ own wellbeing, with staff reporting poorer physical and mental health. When surveyed, 100% of staff who responded stated they had considered leaving the service. We remain deeply concerned for the vulnerable residents of Barnet who we serve, and continue to challenge the lack of a safe service and the unreasonable and increasing waiting lists which put Barnet residents at risk of harm, and even death. We feel that Barnet is not meeting its statutory responsibilities and we are asking for a means to provide a stable, experienced, and permanent workforce. To do this, we are asking for a reasonable recruitment and retention payment, already in place for Family Services, to promote staff to remain in Barnet rather than leave for better paid and lower stressed positions. We ask that you please engage in negotiations so that we may all come together to meet our statutory responsibilities and the needs of Barnet residents.

Yours sincerely,

Barnet Mental Health Social Workers


Breaking News: Barnet UNISON members HGV drivers Recruitment & Retention ballot result.

Dear Barnet UNISON member,

Firstly , thank you for completing this ballot. It is important that your employer understands how important this payment is for you.

Please see below the result of our internal ballot.

What happens next?

Barnet UNISON has already had a brief meeting last week with the Director to advise of our internal ballot.

We agreed to pass on the results of the ballot to senior management and will look to begin negotiations towards the end of October.




Breaking News: 100% vote by Mental Health Social Workers for strike action

North London Business Park, New Southgate.
Unison members go on strike over pay and conditions at Barnet Council.

On Friday 1 September 2023, Barnet UNISON notified Barnet Council Chief Executive that Mental Health Social Workers voted 100% for strike action with a 78.95% turnout.

The strike ballot is in relation to the chronic staffing issues across frontline mental health social work teams in Barnet Council.

Barnet Council has had a long and proud history of Mental Health Social Work pioneering the crisis intervention model in the 1970’s long before Care in the Community legislation.

Barnet Mental Health Social work teams were sought after workplaces full of experienced social workers, but sadly there has been a long drawn-out neglect towards mental health social work which has led to this current crisis. The demise of Mental Health Social Work Teams can be traced back to Barnet Council’s obsession with the “One Barnet mass outsourcing approach” to service delivery. The focus was on commissioning rather than delivering.

The final nail in the coffin for Mental Health Social Work Teams was in 2016 when Barnet Tories agreed the senior management proposal to delete social work posts and replace them with non social work qualified roles. Barnet UNISON in our report: “Unsafe & Unsustainable” UNISON response to Mental Health Restructure 2016” warned the Council of the consequences of pursuing this ideological change. However, as often, when we submit reports we were ignored.

“This result confirms the strength of feeling amongst our members that the offer submitted to staff is unacceptable. Family social workers are, as a minimum receiving 15% with other social workers receiving 20% or 25%. Staff feel undervalued, insulted, and angry. They are working at the coal face of Mental Health services. A service that has been grossly underfunded by the Tories for 13 years. The levels of stress in the workplace are off the scale. Social workers are voting with their feet. During the period of the strike ballot we lost another social worker who chose to leave for a less stressful job in a university and more money. If the Council doesn’t act now to this crisis, then more staff are likely to leave and that will deepen the crisis within the workplace and impact on the services to service users.” John Burgess Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON.


Notes to Editors.

Contact details: Barnet UNISON on 0208 359 2088 or email:


1. Breaking News: Barnet Council Mental Health social workers to be balloted for strike action.

2. UNISON calls for urgent action over chronic shortages of frontline Mental Health social workers.


Breaking News: Update: Barnet Council bring back the Kosher Kitchen Service.  

Earlier today Barnet UNISON emailed the Leader of Barnet Council to instruct senior officers of the Council to make plans for Barnet Council to step in as the employer of last resort.

The Kosher Kitchen is owned by Barnet Council, there are 41 staff willing and ready to continue to provide a service to the children.

This would ensure that all Stage 2 children in the following schools:

  1. Hasmonean Primary,
  2. Beis Yaakov Primary,
  3. Pardes House Primary,
  4. Menorah Primary,
  5. Sacks Morasha Primary,
  6. Rimon Primary,
  7. Mathilda Marks Kennedy,
  8. Beit Shvidler Primary,
  9. Nancy Reuben,
  10. Etz Chaim,
  11. IJDS,
  12. Menorah Foundation,
  13. Hasmonean High School MAT (2 schools).

will have access to free school meals from 1 September 2023.

There are only 5 weeks until the end of term it is important for our members and the schools that this matter is resolved.

Barnet UNISON meanwhile is busy working on appeals for our members who have had their redundancy pay claims turned down by the government.


Notes to Editors.

Contact details: Barnet UNISON on 0208 359 2088 or email:


Breaking News: Sacked catering workers have had redundancy claims turned down!

Update on the “Barnet 41” Kosher Catering Service workers

Help our Barnet Schools Kosher Kitchen Workers


Breaking News: Barnet Council Mental Health social workers to be balloted for strike action.

13 June 2023

Barnet UNISON has today submitted their application for the UNISON Industrial Action Committee (IAC) to approve their call for members working across the following Mental Health Services Teams to be balloted for strike action.

  1. Mental Health Team – North
  2. Mental Health Team – South
  3. Approved Mental Health Practitioners Service.

The ballot is in relation to the chronic staffing issues across these services.

Barnet UNISON proposed that the Council enter into urgent negotiations over the implementation of the Council’s Recruitment and Retention Policy (RRP) for Mental Health Services as a short-term solution to try to hold on to existing staff whilst developing a more comprehensive plan to make Barnet Mental Health social work service one in which staff want to stay. The RRP has been used in Family Services social work for the last 6 six years and has recently increased the rate up to 25% in recognition of the serious RR issues in some parts of Family Services.

Key date dates of meetings to resolve the dispute: 

  1. Friday 24 February 2023 John Burgess Branch Secretary emails Executive Director – Communities, Adults and Health seeking an urgent meeting.
  2. Friday 10 March 2023 meeting with UNISON and Executive Director – Communities, Adults and Health. No agreement.
  3. Wednesday 12 April 2023 Adults JNCC UNISON and Executive Director – Communities, Adults and Health. No agreement.
  4. Wednesday 12 April 2023 John Burgess emails Chief Executive, requesting an emergency JNCG.
  5. Thursday Meeting 18 May 2023 JNCG. No agreement reached UNISON registers a Failure to Agree.

At the third and final meeting with the Chief Executive (18 May 2023) the ongoing lack of meaningful engagement on this matter was summed up at the start of the meeting when the Chief Executive advised he could only stay for 15 minutes.  This meeting had been requested by UNISON as per the procedures. The key decision maker is the Chief Executive who would have been briefed by senior council officers and would be aware that UNISON had already stated that if an agreement could not be found they would issue a request for a formal strike ballot.

In the final meeting UNISON announced that during the first three months of 2023 the following staff have left:

  • 2 Lead Practitioners.
  • 2 Senior Social Workers.
  • 2 Social Workers.
  • 3 Locums.

The two teams have a current establishment of 22 so a loss of 9 staff in a short space of time is further evidence of the chronic staffing issues in frontline mental health teams.

At the end of the meeting UNISON submitted their report and all the supporting documents.

In addition to the recent loss of staff UNISON provided feedback on the outcome of a survey of our members working across the teams.

1. Do think you are working in a safe working environment?

100% of members replied, NO.

2. Have you considered leaving your current role within LBB in the last few months?

100% of members replied, YES.

3. Do you think your salary is fair for the role you carry out?

95% of members replied, NO.

4. Do you think that you should be entitled to RRP?

100% of members replied, YES.

The responses were deeply troubling, and UNISON would have thought an employer would be concerned and want to address these issues. To date UNISON has had no response from senior management despite UNISON stating the door is open.

If management wanted to send a message to the workforce, they couldn’t make is clearer that staff views and their union are not worthy of a response.


Notes to Editors.

Contact details: Barnet UNISON on 0208 359 2088 or


UNISON calls for urgent action over chronic shortages of frontline Mental Health social workers.


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