Join us at 7 pm in Hendon Town Hall to submit close to 1000 signatures of residents calling the Cabinet to bring Your Choice Barnet, services for adults with learning and other disabilities, back in-house.
At that Cabinet meeting the Task & Finish Group’s report about Your Choice Barnet will be submitted.
The outsourced local authority trading company that provides day services and residential care for Barnet residents with learning and complex disabilities is losing money, and as a result the quality of service to these vulnerable adults is deteriorating and front-line support staff (but not senior management!) are facing 10% pay cuts. Some staff members had seen their wages slashed by 20% already and many have left or were made redundant.
However, despite a clause in Your Choice Barnet business case that was presented to Cabinet towards the outsourcing, and promised to take back in-house the services in case of failure, Barnet council refused so far to do so.
Join CADDSS and BAPS along with family carers of YCB users to tell Cabinet we want them to change their mind and do the responsible thing as those in charge with our well-being, and take back into council’s control the 6 services that were outsourced. We will not feel these vital services are secured for the future unless they will fulfil their promise and bring them back in-house.
Here is the Public Comment by Janet Leifer on the Task and Finish Group Review: Your Choice Barnet. Final Report Nov 2013
The Council stated that it was necessary to create Your Choice Barnet because service users could not use direct payments to purchase local authority services. However service users are not obliged to pay for all services they receive by Direct Payment. Indeed it seems that most service users do not use direct payments to pay for YCB services, despite YCB continually urging them to do so. There must be a reason for this – perhaps it is not in the financial interest of service users to do so.
Whilst YCB is a private company, its sole shareholder is the London Borough of Barnet. Thus it is very difficult to differentiate between Your Choice Barnet and the Council. Therefore it is of concern that YCB Board Meetings and relevant papers are no longer publicised on the YCB website whereas until May 2013 members of the public were permitted to attend Board meetings.
Your Choice Barnet Ltd continues to struggle with financial difficulties; it has failed to make a profit. There is an issue of day care services, which are non regulatory, being subject to VAT and it is not clear how this will affect charges for service users. One way of reducing costs is to benchmark salaries and restructure staff. No doubt this must affect staff morale and has led to greater use of agency staff.
The first recommendation of this review concerns core permanent staffing level and there is an urgent need for Risk Management Control. When will this recommendation be put in place and what will be management response if core management staffing levels are inadequate? Will more permanent staff be employed very quickly to mitigate risk?
Unfortunately the Group did not speak to many service users or carers directly and so could not pick up on their concerns. Two day care centres, Community Space, and BILS appear to be organising activities at alternative venues that do not always meet health and safety or wellbeing needs.
This is one carer’s comments on a church hall now used for Community Space activities on a Friday:
“Whilst the current venue is acceptable it is not always compatible with the needs of the clients for example, a few weeks ago I witnessed Paul White with the aid of a carer worker struggling to climb the stairs to the upper floor hall where the group meet for showing of their own DVDs because the lift was broken.
The clients also have to pay for the hire or towards the hire of the hall whereas at The Space everything is on ground floor level purpose built. The majority take a packed lunch so they are no more in the community in a church hall than they are at The Space.
This church is also right on the roundabout junction on Mill Hill Circus at the junction of the A1 and Mill Hill Broadway and subject to heavy fast flowing traffic, therefore clients are more at risk if they wander off than they are at The Space, which is in a quite cul.- de- sac.
There is no positive benefit for the clients using this church hall venue , in many ways including those I have raised it is to the detriment of the well being of the clients. in my opinion the purpose built facility of The Space should be used for this activity and others on a Friday, it would offer all clients a wider choice of activity in a safe environment.”
It is a great shame that the Group were not able to consult more widely and in greater depth with service users and their carers, to whom the Council has a duty of care.
The original Business Plan was over optimistic about the financial benefits of creating YCB.
What will be the long term future for services delivered by YCB if its financial situation does not improve? Will YCB services be brought back in-house?