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Don't cut our services. Don't privatise our services. Our Barnet, not One Barnet!
We are asking Barnet residents to contact their councillors about the One Barnet programme.
* What does your councillor think of the One Barnet programme?
* Will your councillor help you to defeat it? (That is assuming that you have made up your mind yourself!)
* Will your councillor support a debate in the council chamber on the issue (no, there hasn’t been one yet)?
Go to meet your councillor and find out.
Don’t know which ward you belong to or who are your councillors?
You can find this out by searching for your post code in the wards listed here.
Then you can find when and where their ward surgery takes place on LBB list of councillors’ surgeries.
If you want to take part in this campaign, you can read about One Barnet in this leaflet. It includes questions to ask councillors.
You can also sign and collect signatures on a petition calling for the One Barnet programme to be put to a referendum of all Barnet residents. We will have to live with the consequences: let us decide whether we want the One Barnet programme! Download the One Barnet petition here.
A list of councillors’ contact details is on the back of the petition.
Please let us know how you get on. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barnet Council is trying to justify the One Barnet programme by saying that, on the current trajectory, the whole of the council budget will soon be spent on adult and children’s social care.
To back up this alarming – and alarmist – scenario they produced a so-called ‘Graph of Doom’, which has been widely reported in the press.
John Dix – aka Barnet blogger ‘Mr Reasonable’ – has analysed the ‘graph of doom’ and criticises it in this document.
Barnet Council Unison branch is producing a series of briefings on different aspects of the One Barnet programme. This, the 9th and latest, looks at the issue of the risks involved in outsourcing Regulatory Services to the private sector.
These PDF documents are also available from the ‘Critique’ page.
By Barnet Unison
What is a Joint Venture?
A joint venture is usually a company that is part owned by the council and part by a private contractor. There are different kinds of company that can be used for a joint venture but the most common are where each party invests, i.e. takes shares in the company, or where each party guarantees the company’s liabilities up to a fixed amount. These types of company are known respectively as Company Limited by Shares and Company Limited by Guarantee. The council’s contribution could be in the form of cash, capital, intellectual property, staff, equipment or any other form of asset. The level of ownership it has will be determined by how much it puts in or what level of guarantee it provides.
What is a Joint Venture for?
Joint venture companies can have any number of purposes but are often used to provide a service back to the council instead of a straight contract with a private sector company. The benefits are that the council can have more control over how the service is provided and also the ability to share in any profits the company might make from other trading activity.
1) Budget challenge = need for One Barnet Programme
Barnet Council’s ‘Barnet First’ magazine for September 2012 identifies that £72.5m is required to be saved from the baseline budget over the four year period 2011-12 to 2014-15. The Council’s budget book identifies £43m of savings to be delivered in the three year period 2012-13 and 2014-15. This means that the Council has already delivered £29.5m worth of savings or 40% of the required target in a single year.
The target savings to be achieved through the DRS outsourcing are £2.6m per annum (or just £5.2m across the savings period detailed above 2013-15).
The target savings to be achieved through the NSCSO (back office + customer services) project is £4.1m per annum (or £8.2m across 2013-15).
The Barnet Alliance for Public Services argue:
>> Alternative ways to save – The value of the two contracts is more than £1bn for a 10-year period. This is a £100m budget per annum, meaning that across the two contracts the annual saving is just 6.7% upon the existing budget.
>> Alternatives to fixed contract – The question is whether it is worth tying the Council into the restrictions of a contract for 10 years for these required levels of savings? What alternatives have been fully explored? (none fully)
In-house/public sector comparator
Barnet Alliance is campaigning to oppose the One Barnet programme and at the same time asking that Barnet Council commit to developing an in-house comparator. It is important that residents understand what this means and how other councils invest in ensuring that best practice in this field is followed.
What have the private sector bidders been doing?
For the last 12 months the bidders have had full access to all the relevant financial/operational data about the council services to be privatised. The information is all downloaded to a data room which is online. The bidders are also given access to senior managers to ask question about the services. At the end of 12 months they are asked to submit their final bid to deliver council services.
Edinburgh Council carried out their own version of the One Barnet programme. However, there was one crucial difference: they wanted to make sure they made the right decision and therefore funded an in-house/public sector comparator. They continued to go through the complex procurement exercise but all the time knew they would have an in-house comparator to test against the bids from the private sector organisations bidding to run their services.
Barnet Council have refused to follow this good practice.
How long does it take to develop an in-house bid?
In Edinburgh, consultants the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) were asked to produce a high level in-house alternative which took around three months to develop. Once this was producedthe Council insisted that they worked up an alternative which could be implemented. This took about a year to produce and involved staff across all levels. This final version was submitted to the relevant committee to be assessed against the bids submitted by the private sector.
There is time to pull back and develop an in-house bid
The first One Barnet project to go before the Cabinet Committee for a final decision is the New Support and Customer Services Organisation (NSCSO), worth in excess of £750 million. On 6 December 2012 members of Barnet Council Cabinet Committee could award a contract to BT or Capita.
The Cabinet also has the option to decide not to award the contract to either contractor and to choose instead to work with UNISON, APSE and residents to develop an alternative in-house service. We urge them to take this course!
Following an impromptu public meeting in Chipping Barnet library during councillors’ ward surgeries on 15 September, in which a lively discussion was followed by what seemed like a potential opening for a genuine dialogue between councillors and residents, we are still waiting for a reply from Cllr Cornelius about a joint public meeting to be organised by BAPS and the council. Alternatively, BAPS will be happy to host such a meeting if Cllr Cornelius and other Cabinet members and councillors will accept our invitation to take part in it.
Here are the two emails sent as a follow up to the 15 September meeting:
17 September 2012
Dear Cllr Cornelius, Cllr Longstaff, Cllr Turner and Cllr Strongolou,
First, I’d like to reiterate what Mr Bishop said at the meeting and to thank you all for staying for another hour and a half after your surgery time to discuss the One Barnet Programme with us, residents. We didn’t anticipate this spontaneous ‘public meeting’, which came about when local residents who received our information leaflets and heard about the OBP from our activists around the street stall, chose to take the opportunity of the drop-in councillors’ surgery and come in there and then to talk with their local representatives about it.
The public should know what some members of the public, some of them from Barnet Alliance for Public Services, learned in meetings with councillors in their ward surgeries during August and September:
But she thinks that 25% risk of failure of the One Barnet Programme is nothing to worry about, that petitions signed by thousands of residents don’t mean a thing, and though we are all ‘entitled to our views’, these should not be considered when Cabinet makes decisions about the future of the borough. (18 August & 1st September ward surgeries)
Councillors should know that the least we can do in this age of ‘drive for relentless efficiency’ is revise their remuneration to reflect their lighter workload. Savings need to be made – we cannot afford to continue to pay £1 million in allowances to councillors who have less to do – and reducing councillors’ allowances by the same percentage of services they are outsourcing, hence will no longer have to oversee, would seem fair to taxpayers.
Those councillors who approve the One Barnet programme should know that we, the residents who will need to pay for the profit on Capita or BT or not get a service, will not vote for them again, because they have proven themselves unwilling to listen to their constituents or to act in their best interests. Residents paying for councillors’ mistakes will be voting for those people who will try to restore services and democracy to Barnet.