Janet Leifer letter in response to Cllr. Cornelius letter to the Press. Yet to be published.
I feel I must respond to the letter from Richard Cornelius concerning outsourcing of service provision and Your Choice that was published in The Press of 13 June.
The Campaign Against the Destruction of Disabled Support Services, CADDSS for short grew from a letter written by me and published in the local press in the Spring of 2011 and a response to it made by John Sullivan, also published in the local press shortly afterwards. I do not think that either of us would see ourselves as part of a “hard left pressure group”. However I think we both felt great anxiety about how changes in the provision of adult social care in Barnet would affect members of our family in need of care and us as their carers. We were also aware that there were other residents in Barnet with similar concerns. CADDSS grew out of our despair and our fear for the future safety of the people we cared for. What would their future be when we were no longer around to be there for them?
There is no secret conspiracy with BAPS. Of course we are happy to have the support of Barnet Alliance for Public Services. Cllr Cornelius is right to say that Tirza Waisel is a member of both campaigns. CADDSS is campaigning for decent and fair treatment for disabled residents in Barnet and therefore for decent and fair conditions for the care and support workers who look after them. This is totally in agreement with what BAPS is campaigning for.
Changes in the way the London Borough of Barnet proposes to provide services are huge and involve the outsourcing of a great many services. These decisions are being made by the small group of Councillors who are Cabinet members, acting on the advice of the most senior council officers. Members of CADDSS and BAPS feel it is our duty to hold them accountable for their decisions which will have a far reaching and long lasting impact on services.
The severely disabled residents who use the services run by Your Choice Barnet have no choice but to use these services. Your Choice Barnet is struggling with financial loss and cannot cope with the current cost of paying its staff. If the wages bill has to be reduced this must impact on the terms and conditions of employment of its staff. If numbers of staff are reduced or permanent staff are replaced by agency staff this must affect the service users and their carers.
Your Choice Barnet’s income seems to come largely, or perhaps solely, from the London Borough of Barnet, which may reduce this funding at any time. Your Choice Barnet is supposed to be marketing its services to individuals and organisations outside the borough to generate income. It has not had success in doing this. Under these circumstances it is not surprising that service users, their families and the employees of Your Choice Barnet are worried about what lies ahead for them.
I am proud to be a member of CADDSS and BAPs and deeply saddened that the sorry state of affairs in the London Borough of Barnet has given rise to their existence.
I would like to end with a statement recently issued by John Sullivan which really shows the desperate state of relations between Barnet residents and Barnet Council:
““I have instructed Irwin Mitchell solicitors on behalf of my daughter to challenge Your Choice Barnet’s consultation process and decision (if the decision today was to implement the proposals). Irwin Mitchell have sent a letter before action to Your Choice Barnet and await a response on Monday 17 June. If the challenge is successful it may result in staff members being able to stay in their current posts without any changes. I am aware that some members of staff have already shown interest in taking voluntary redundancy and would want them to be aware of the possibility that they could keep their current jobs, if this challenge is successful.”