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

What has UNISON been saying in the consultation meetings?

“What has been going on in the consultation meetings?”

 Since the Cabinet report we have had very little to look at. However we have been using the time to try to research what is happening in other Councils across the UK

“Isn’t this just a smoke screen for getting rid of staff.”

I don’t know. From the start I was justifiably cynical that the Future had already been ‘shaped , the only outstanding issue…which services will be the first to move out of Council control?

In the meetings I have been consistently raising the need for in house services to have a level playing field with other service delivery options. The Project Director and members of the team have consistently reiterated that there is no set agenda and the outcome is not set. This has been reported in answer to questions to staff on the Councils intranet.

“If we provide a good service and have an in house transformation plan will we be safe from privatisation?”

No, in recent weeks the dominant theme that is emerging from our discussions is the following paragraph from the 6 May 2008 Cabinet report

“1. Developing capacity, shrinking organisational scale

The authority will look to scale down to a size which would mean it delivering only what the local authority must deliver in order to achieve efficiencies and improved services for residents (which might mean them being delivered by another organisation), what implications would that have for the council. This work stream will seek to address this.”

The Joint Trade Unions have been looking to establish a level playing field for in house services. Our Briefings have been looking to establish clear parameters by which in house services will be compared to other delivery options. However it seems the ‘shrinking’ element appears to be the key driver to Future Shape.

As we draw closer to 3 December Cabinet Committee’s decision on the Future for Barnet staff,  the Trade Unions and Council staff need to know:

1. What do the Council mean by developing capacity?

2. What do the Council mean by Shrinking organisational scale? (In Plain English this surely means getting rid of staff. The question is which staff and how many?)

3. What does Delivering only what the local authority must deliver’ mean?

4. Which services would they want to stop delivering?

Be prepared

In the past when the Council has carried out consultation on privatisation, the Trade Unions have been accused of scaremongering and misrepresenting the process. This was a familiar tactic to undermine the attempts of the Trade Unions to try and ensure elected members are fully appraised of the options. We do still live in a democracy and we are fully entitled to lobby councillors.

What is different this time?

In this consultation the Council has made a serious commitment by providing significant resources; they agreed funding for The European Services Strategy Unit to provide research and critical analysis for the Joint Trade unions in the consultation process and extra resources for both Trade Unions.

The Joint Trade Unions have made it clear to the Project team that they need to respond to the recommendations published in our five Briefings to date. In light of the real risk that some services may face privatisation, the Council must respond urgently.

Briefing 4 – Barnet to review their staffing contracts

The Future Shape of the Council programme is reviewing outsourced services. The trade unions welcome these reviews and want to ensure they are comprehensive and rigorous so that lessons can be learnt.


1.      The Future Shape of the Council programme should adopt a more comprehensive contract review process based on five criteria – Performance; Impact on the council, service users and staff; Service integration; Contract management and monitoring; and Employment issues.

2.      Each review report should be available to the relevant Committee, managers and trade unions.

An overview report should be prepared drawing together all the lessons learnt together with recommendations.

To view full Briefing click here

Barnet Homes staff face uncertain Future

Barnet Homes Future Shape questionnaire

To all members working for Barnet Homes, you should have received a questionnaire and letter regarding the Future Shape of the Council. We have also included copies of Council Committee papers that would suggest that they are also looking at the future of Barnet Homes.

Options include :

  • Retaining Barnet Homes and extending their business
  • Bringing the management of the stock back in house after completion of the Decent Homes’ programme.
  • Transfer the stock to a Housing Association.

It is important that you return the questionnaire and attend the meetings outlined in the letter as this affects your future and your pension.

The meetings are in the Boardroom on the 9th Floor Barnet House on

Monday 22 September and Wednesday 1 October 2008 from 12.30pm

They should last only half an hour and John Burgess will be attending
I look forward to seeing you there.

Anne Denison.

UNISON Convenor for Barnet Homes


Trade unions submit Employment Charter

Barnet Briefing 3

Headines  from Briefing 3

1. The Employment Charter should form the basis for the development and appraisal of options in the Future Shape of the Council programme. Each option should be assessed to determine the employment impact and the extent to which it fulfils the requirements of the Charter.

2. The Employment Charter should be incorporated into the Council’s Corporate Procurement Strategy.

click here to view full document

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.


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.


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