We are already witnessing the casualties of the One Barnet Programme. It is the staff and vulnerable service users of the Local Authority Trading Company (LATC) “Your Choice Barnet”, which provides services to people with learning and physical disabilities and sensory impairments, that are paying the price.
See the following consultation document published on Friday 1st March here. Read Mrs Angry of Broken Barnet for more background information.
On Monday 4th March at 6pm in Barnet House, 1255 High Road, there is a Barnet Group (the Local Authority Trading Company) board meeting, which is open to the public. If you read between the lines of this consultation document and you are as horrified as some of us are by the implications of it on workers’ ability to provide good services and their motivation and by the impact of reduced staffing levels on the quality of these services - please join us in this board meeting.
The obvious demand that needs to be made is to bring these services back in-house. Social services cannot be provided for profit.
The implications of the current suggestions are falling quality of care to the most vulnerable, due to reduced staffing levels and devaluing - therefore de-motivation - of the remaining staff. We already hear stories, there are suggested examples in the consultation report (link above), for example, about the rate at which someone who suffers from incontinence will be supported during night time in the respite facility Valley Way, or in the supported living scheme Agatha House, and we will be collating more evidence about the effects of the LATC operation on service users’ quality of life.
These failings represent one by one all the concerns that we (residents) have raised during council committees’ meetings in the past two years, on the 24 May 2011 Cabinet Resource Committee and on the 16 January 2012 Cabinet meeting, which discussed the creation of the LATC, as well as in a couple of our members’ correspondence with top social services managers and with Cllr Rajput, Cabinet member for adult social care, in June 2011. (These can be found on the council’s website if searched for by the meetings’ dates, and may be sent upon email request.)
Cllr Rajput had promised to bring these services back in-house if the LATC will fail. Well, it has failed. Now is the time to bring it back, before a disaster happens!
Your Choice Barnet - the first One Barnet implementation, one year old and already collapsing
WHAT WILL THAT MEAN TO DISABLED PEOPLE WHO USE THE SERVICES? WHAT WILL IT MEAN FOR CARE STAFF PROVIDING THESE SERVICES FOR PEOPLE WITH LEARNING AND PHYSICAL DISABILITIES?
The first part of the One Barnet Programme to be implemented, exactly a year ago, was the creation of the Local Authority Trading Company: Barnet Group, with it’s two subsidiary companies - Barnet Homes (social housing) and Your Choice Barnet (services for people with learning disabilities and with physical and sensory impairments). Quite besides the (important) fact that the name chosen – Your Choice, is misleading, as the new company presents less choices for service users and their carers, the council claimed that this new structure will make savings and generate income by selling services to users from other boroughs. However, within the first few months of its operation we had learned that the LATC Your Choice Barnet is already loosing money. All this time we’ve been hearing harrowing stories from family carers and staff about deteriorating quality of services and further looming cuts.
The most recent bad news about Your Choice Barnet came on the 1st of March 2013 in a press release from the Barnet branch of Unison: We then witnessed what we anticipated and dreaded, that when social services are exposed to market environment and need to make a profit - it immediately affects the staff’s pay and conditions and the level and quality of service to the end service users, as corners are cut to make savings and staff satisfaction plummets.
Social services should be run to serve the needs of the people who use them – not the need for profit!
If you have a story about how the changing provision of social services has affected you of your loved one – please share it with us. Email us with your story.