Future Shape – How YOU can get involved?

What we need from you?

We understand that our members have busy lives and unable to make time to attend more meetings. So we are conducting consultation through the internet and ‘traditional’ (by post).

We have devised Four Groups

1. Strengthening democratic government and community participation

2. Community need for public services

3. Improved coordination and shared services

4. Harnessing technology to improve service delivery

We have Common questions for all groups

1. What are your ideas for the future of your service or group of services, taking account that you will not have access to significant additional resources in the near future?

2. What is the key change which will get your proposals implemented – is this better use of existing resources, pooling of budgets, changing the management of service delivery, greater operational freedom for staff and/or organisational change – or something else?

3. What changes are needed in the Council’s organisational structure?

4. Consider the inputs, processes, outputs and outcomes for each proposal.

Group 1

Strengthening democratic government and community participation

1. Do you have specific proposals to improve democratic accountability in Barnet to increase community participation in decision-making processes?

2. What should be the main elements of a Community Charter to increase community participation in Barnet?

3. What effect will the Future Shape organisational structure have for democratic accountability and community participation?

4. How can existing arrangements and legislation (for example the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment – PCT and Council and the Local Government Act 2007) be used to improve community participation?

Group 2

Community need for public services

1. What effect will a long recession have on the need and demand for public services in Barnet (both Council and other services)?

2. Is there a need for new services which are either not currently provided or provided on a small scale?

3. What are the key improvements that community organisations and the voluntary sector are demanding from the Council?

4. Are there any services or functions which the Council or other public bodies in Barnet do not currently provide but should do so

5. Are there any services or functions carried out by the Council and other public bodies in Barnet which could be reduced or terminated?

6. What is the community experience of services which have already been outsourced or externalised to arms length organisations by the Council or other public bodies in Barnet?

Group 3

Improved coordination and shared services

1. What is the scope for better coordination of service delivery between the Council and other public services in Barnet (such the Primary Care Trust, the NHS, Barnet College, the Police, Middlesex University, Jobcentres?)

• Identify the services – are they limited to ‘back offices services’

• What is the scope for better coordination and integration?

• How can this be achieved and implemented

• Identify the improvements/benefits which can be achieved

• Are there any costs/savings?

• Are organisational changes needed?

2. Is there scope for more formal shared service delivery between the Council and other public services in Barnet?

3. Do you think there is scope for Barnet Council to establish shared services projects with other London Boroughs?

4. What are the political and economic advantages and disadvantages of shared services projects?

Group 4

Harnessing technology to improve service delivery

1. What is the scope for introducing new technology to improve service delivery?

2. What impact will these changes have on the organisation of work, working practice, staffing levels and accommodation needs?

3. Do you think the ideas for the application of new technology being discussed in the Council’s Future Shape group are workable?


YOU decide which Group and questions you want to contribute to.

You can send in your views, contributions by email to contactus@barnetunison.org.uk or return your comments in the pre paid envelope provided in the letter you received from the branch.

“It’s all gone quiet over there …it’s all gone quiet over there!”

Members have been asking what is going on with Future Shape. There has not been much on the intranet and the Trade Unions have not been consulting with their members.

Firstly we are not keeping anything from our members. Since the turn of the year we have had only two meetings with the Future Shape lead.

We support the intention for transparency throughout the process and have asked that those without access to the intranet be provided regular communication on developments. We will endeavour to keep members updated with news on progress of the groups and our input.  

Earlier this year we received a report on the Future Shape Groups

To view click here

Two weeks ago we received a report on the proposed outline for the Groups.

To view click here

& Group membership

To view click here

As you can see the Seven Groups have a considerable amount of work to get through before a Future Shape report has to be submitted to the 8 June Cabinet Committee. Each Group will meet at least four times over the next few months.

The Trade Unions were not allowed to be part of the Groups. In order to try and ensure we are able to take part in the consultation process we are arranging to meet with the Group Leaders before each meeting.

To date we have met with 5 of the 7 Group Lead and should have met with all of them by Wednesday this week.

Whilst we will try to keep updating our members on Future Shape you should try and keep checking the Council Future Shape intranet site for the latest news. Each Group will be uploading minutes of meetings and the work plans. If you have any questions of any of the Groups it is important that you ask them now.

Save the Planet – Listen to the talking Fridge

This week, European regulators will start setting new efficiency standards for fridges, TVs, and other products. Strong rules could massively cut Europe’s climate pollution, but industrial lobbyists are pushing to weaken the proposals.

Please read and listen to an unusual message: a video sent back in time from the future … by a talking fridge named “Coldy.” Click the picture to watch the video and take action now:

Barnet College students – Make your Mark

First time Voters

Barnet Trades Council commissioned Barnet College students to look at how first time voters could be encouraged to take part in elections.

Please note Monday show is for the general public and Tuesday for Barnet College students only

To view the times & venues of their performances click here

Adults Social Services Restructuring

You will be aware we had lengthy discussions regarding the job descriptions. We have now begun the process of job evaluations. This means looking at the pay for each role. To date the only one which has been agreed is the Service Manager grade. We are in the middle of difficult negotiations about the pay rates for all other grades. This is taking some time as we are trying to be thorough and make sure people are properly recognised for the work they do. It is also the case I have 2 days per week to attend to Adult Social Services. It would be fair to say, at the moment, we do not see eye to eye on a number of points on the job evaluations. I will keep you updated.

Work-related Stress

In the middle of this I have been hearing of the stresses experienced by teams and individuals. I can only encourage those colleagues to speak up about those problems. Stress at work is an immediate Health and Safety issue and you should not feel you have to wait for a restructuring to take place in order to put an end to unacceptable levels of stress. Warning signs would, for instance, be breaking down in tears because of work, disrupted sleep pattern etc. Tell your UNISON representatives and your manager and discuss a way forward with them.


Safeguarding Audit 

Also in the middle of the negotiations on the job evaluations the unions (UNISON and GMB) were suddenly given extra role profiles and evaluations to complete with respect to the Safeguarding team. These are also still in the process of being negotiated. Colleagues have identified, in casual conversations and approaches to the union, the safeguarding audit as being a source of additional stress.

I will be meeting with Social Workers in Adults Services to discuss the issue of minute taking in Adult Protection cases.


It’s Good to Talk 

If anyone or group of workers wants to meet a UNISON rep to discuss a way forward with all of this I may not be able to arrange one instantly but I am always committed to meeting people to see what we can sort out. So please do contact me at the UNISON office if you need to arrange something. Sometimes advice over the phone can be a big help also.

You may want to convene a discussion with colleagues about other matters relating to the union or your work and work practices. It’s your union, your right to have your say, contact us to organise a meeting. This is often the first step to getting things to change. I will always do my best to attend and will always support those trying to change things for the better.


Helen Davies

Social Services Convenor (Job Share)

Contact us: 020 8359 2088.




Red Nose Day – Prostate Cancer

I am raising money for Comic Relief on Red Nose Day. I am also trying to raise awareness about Prostate Cancer. I have managed to make contact with a colleague from the PCT and she will be joining me in the Atrium in North London Business Park on Friday 13th?



If you would like to make a donation or learn about Prostate Cancer email me at john.burgess@barnetunison.org.uk

Some facts about Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer has overtaken lung cancer to become the most common cancer in men. 

Nearly 35,000 men are diagnosed every year in the UK. 

This increasing incidence is largely due to a higher number of cases being diagnosed, (through the greater use of PSA tests), and the influence of an ageing population. 

Around 10,000 men die from prostate cancer every year in the UK. This works out as over one man every hour. 

The majority of men with prostate cancer are aged over 60 years. Although this cancer can also occur in younger individuals, it is very rare under the age of 50 

For more details go to the Prostate Cancer Charity website 








Watch out watch out …….Pensions

The union has become very concerned that the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) has been approached by Partnership for Schools (PfS) to provide financing for its Building Schools for the Future PFI programme.

An unknown number of local authority pension funds have been approached as possible sources of capital to rebuild and renovate school buildings.

To view official newsletter click here

Full Council report….Life of Brian

“What did the Roman’s Council do for us?”

I was minded of the scene from the Life Brian as councillors lined up to give their view on what Barnet Council does for Barnet residents. Barnet staff your ears should have been burning as councillor after councillor stepped to say what a fantastic job you do. The Leader stating we have the most efficient, low cost back office service (barring Bexley) in London.  

It struck me that I hope the Future Shape report going to Cabinet reflects not only the efficiency and expertise of the current council workforce but their ability to respond to ever changing face of local government.  

The usual banter between the parties ensued as ever, I wonder when we will start filming these meetings. It seems a natural progression. Technology is moving at a hermetic pace, to try and engage residents the council needs to look at the ways it consults.  

The Leader Cllr Mike Freer opened up with the proposed Budget followed by an alternative budget from Labour Group Leader Cllr Alison Moore, followed by Lib-Dem Leader Cllr Jack Cohen.  

Minutes from the meeting will be online but here are a few comments  

Cllr Freer “Year on year starved of funds. 5th lowest grant in London.  £272 per head, Islington £800. Most efficient back office cost in London only Bexley is cheaper.”

Cllr Moore:“In a time of recession Council Tax increase is unacceptable…other boroughs are going for a council tax freeze. Fees and Charges above inflation. This Budget is going to have a devastating impact on the most vulnerable, elderly and disabled.” 

Cllr Cohen:“Spoke about the Icelandic Bank which he felt had not been sufficiently explained. He believed there was a real possibility the tax payer will have to pay. He mentioned the purchase of Plasma TV screen, lap tops which were now hidden away as example of waste.”

He then thanked Barnet Bloggers

Roger T Barnet Eye http://barneteye.blogspot.com/

Don’t call me Dave http://www.notthebarnettimes.co.uk/

Statler and Waldorf  http://www.barnetcouncil.net/ 

From the reaction of the councillors, these BLOGS were well known. 


What about the Public?


The public gallery was full of angry residents, they were here about two issues in the budget. The deletion of the sheltered housing service and the withdrawal of funding for the Stable Project for adults with Learning difficulties.  

As they heard their issues being discussed you could not help but feel their anger & frustration about the lack of engagement and understanding of their concerns. Unfortunately for those unfamiliar with the current bureaucratic rules governing public involvement in local democracy these meetings will often be the first and last they will want to go to. If government really wants to reflect the views of communities it needs to seriously look at resident access to local politicians.

The decision about the Future of the Welfare Rights Unit and the Sheltered Housing Schemes will be made at a future Cabinet meeting.


Stop Press – Barnet Elect a New Mayor


There were two nominations this evening

Brian Coleman (Con) & Linda McFadyen(Lab)


Brian Coleman was elected Mayor 




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