The legal advisers acting for resident Susan Sullivan have received a response from the Board of Your Choice Barnet agreeing, belatedly, to hold consultation with residents affected by the impact of proposed changes, which amongst other plans, involved driving out or demoting skilled staff, cutting support staffing, making up to 30% cuts in already low wages, changing terms and conditions of employment, and exposing vulnerable residents to the risk of a dramatic deterioration in their standard of care.
“The Board has decided in principle to proceed with the front-line changes to supported living, salary enhancements and the change to waking night arrangements both within supported living and Valley Way. However, the Board is of the opinion that before making any final decision it needs more information on the effect on service users their families and wider stakeholders and to hear people’s views on any alternatives. To that end the Board intends to consult further. and Your Choice Barnet will shortly be drawing up proposals for the consultation exercise …”
“The Board has decided not to proceed for the moment with the co-location of Community Space and BILS. Further consideration will be given to these services at a later date …”
“The 25 staff who have been offered and paid voluntary redundancy are being informed that due to a potential legal challenge the restructure involving their positions is on hold and therefore they are not at present redundant. They are being offered a choice on whether to go ahead with the redundancy or not.”
This is a far cry from the belligerence we saw at last month’s board meeting, when the board said it didn’t have to discuss cuts with families and services users because it was a private company and wasn’t obliged to talk to people. The board actually walked out on families and service users, rather than discuss staff and service cuts. The success families and services have had this week in making the board back down goes to show that it is possible to pressure some companies into a rethink. It also goes to show why legal aid is so important. John Sullivan’s daughter Susan was eligible for legal aid and that is one reason why it was possible to make the legal threat.
John Sullivan says:
“We have achieved a pause in the rush to the bottom in service provision and quality of life for Your Choice Barnet service users. Where we can, we will make contact with ALL services users, family carers and parents to ensure we ALL have an input into the structure of the proposed consultation before consultation starts. One thing is for certain - we cannot trust Your Choice Barnet to make those contacts, or organise a meaningful consultation without our input. They simply cannot be trusted.”
Perhaps the message is now getting through, loud and clear:
Nothing about us, without us!
Your Barnet Consultation press release (PDF)