Category Archives: Public Services

An open meeting of #KickOutCapita campaign and BAPS

With John Dix aka Mr Reasonable to explain and discuss the implications of the Grant Thornton report will be held on:

Tuesday 2 October 6.30 pm at the Greek Cypriot Centre, 2 Britannia Rd N12 9RU

Read the Grant Thornton auditors’ report and judge for yourself whether – after near bankrupting the council’s finances through their ideological choice of extreme outsourcing, with the results that are pointed out in this report – we shouldn’t expect some resignations or some heads to roll. We should think that at least Cllr Richard Cornelius and his deputy Cllr Daniel Thomas if not all the Conservative councillors who oversaw this shambles should resign if they have an ounce of integrity between them! Do Tory councillors have any integrity at all?

Barnet Labour call for termination of Capita contracts after fraud report suggests breach of contract

Following today’s publication of the audit report on the £2m Capita fraud case, Barnet Labour are calling for the termination of both Capita contracts with Barnet Council (CSG and Re Ltd).

They are also calling for the Leader of the Council, Cllr Richard Cornelius, and his Deputy Leader Cllr Dan Thomas to resign.

The damning report reveals major failings in financial controls within Capita that allowed the fraud to take place and have serious implications for the future of the Council.

The report outlines the failings of five financial safety nets, any one of which, had they been functioning effectively, would have prevented the fraud.

Failings identified as enabling the fraud include: the perpetrator being given inappropriate access to financial systems; insufficient control over the processing of transactions, which meant that 62 inappropriate payments were made without being challenged; a lack of robust challenge and scrutiny at an operational level; and insufficient oversight by the Council.

Shockingly, the fraud was revealed not by the Council or Capita, but by suspicions raised by the perpetrator’s bank.

These failures show insufficient oversight by the Council, despite repeated calls from the Labour Group for tighter contract management.

Leader of the Barnet Labour Group, Cllr Barry Rawlings said: “This is incompetence of scandalous proportions, and looks like a breach of contract. Barnet Council must act to terminate these two contracts and take back control of Capita-run services.

“The Council are clearly not able to manage this kind of commercial relationship, and Capita have demonstrated they are not able to run key services to a basic standard.

“Cllrs Cornelius and Thomas must also take responsibility for what is ultimately a failure of their ideology driven policy. Their misplaced faith in Capita has ensured that the Council has insufficient financial oversight of outsourced services. And as they are responsible for the council’s finances and regeneration schemes, this fraud happened directly under their noses.

“Barnet Labour Councillors repeatedly warned of the risk of outsourcing so many services to the same organisation. Time after time this has been proved right.

“The fraud case is yet another incident in a never-ending saga of financial mismanagement. Barnet residents deserve better.”

Ends.
Notes: A copy of the Grant Thornton report can be found here: https://www.barnet.gov.uk/…/finance…/Financial-controls.html

Barnet Labour Group statement on the Resources Committee

Barnet Council has agreed that terminating the two Capita contracts will be fully tested and considered in a Full Business Case looking at bringing Capita-run services in-house. The decision was made at the Policy & Resources Committee on 19 July which discussed options to realign the Council’s relationship with Capita.

A report in the name of the Leader of the Council recommended ‘Option 2’ – preparing a Full Business Case to insource a limited number of Capita-run services such as Highways, Estates, HR and Finance.

Barnet’s Labour councillors proposed that ‘Option 3’  – which would bring the partnership with Capita to an end – should be included in the Full Business Case to ensure that councillors had all the evidence and flexibility to make a final decision. This was conceded by the Conservative councillors.

Full statement.

Option 3 – Tories taken to task over Capita!

Tory councillors, forced to review their outsourcing arrangements with failling privateers Capita due the scale of the disaster, walked away with their tales between their legs after a mauling at town hall Resources Committee. Barnet Alliance for Public Services activists and Labour councillors, who held a lively rally outside before the meeting. By the end, the Conservatives had been forced to carry out a fully analysis of the costs and possibilities of kicking out Capita all together.

In the meeting itself, the Tories were virtually lost for words, as they have reneged on almost everything they had said in the local elections in May. After pledging to maintain low council tax, they are now looking to make the largest tax rises allowed in law. When it was pointed out that they had frozen council taxes for years, and that council officers’ reports had shown that funding was in trouble months ago. they responded by pathetically appealing to the Labour group and residents not to “hark on about the past” and then trying to blame the economic policies of Gorden Brown in the same breath!

The preferred solution for this crisis-ridden administration was to do a partial reversion of services back t public control, which would have left Capita with those elements of services that are mostly profitable to them. By the end of the meeting, they were forced to conceed that no option for in-sourcing should be off the table in order to save our borough. This a massive step forward for our movement!

See a good report on the meeting in the Barnet Times here.

Barnet Unison: Barnet Group to begin privatizing services at the same time cutting wages and terms and conditions of staff

Barnet UNISON is currently in negotiations with The Barnet Group in relation to the recommendations below.

Needless to say, Barnet UNISON is opposed to cuts to this vital front line service and opposed to the night operator service being outsourced.

The proposed recommendation to move to bench marked salaries would have grave implications for ALL Barnet Group staff irrespective of whether they are employed on a traditional Barnet Homes contract, which is protected by the 2006 TUPE agreement from LBB, or, a TBG Flex contract.

If Barnet Group Management continue with the intention to break with the current nationally agreed pay structure in the Barnet Homes and the TBG Flex paystructure, Barnet UNISON will be left with no alternative other than consult with ALL employees that would potentially be effected.

It is fully acknowledged that Assist is an essential and greatly valued service and the focus will be on how the service is supported to grow. However, the current cost base does not support the services ability to bid for new business and cannot continue to be provided in its existing form if the growth aspirations are to be achieved.

The proposed changes are not made to cut costs just to make the numbers balance, but are made to modernise the service. The result of the changes are lower costs as we plan to combine our call centre functions and tender the current night operators service. Jobs will be offered in the call centre where they are available but they will be different.

The measures that need to be taken if Assist is to continue to provide an operator and mobile response service to its current customers and to win additional services to support the growth imperative are stated below.

There have been 4 different options that have been consulted on with the Assist staff and following feedback the following is recommended.

  • The Assist service provides a limited operator service during office hours and buys in the out of hours call monitoring.
  • All Assist daytime operators, mobile response officers, management and admin teams will be matched to the bench marked high rate salaries, aligned to NJC Outer London Spinal points.
  • Enhancements and shift allowances will no longer be paid.
  • 3 full time equivalent operator posts (125 hours) will be co-located to work within the contact centre carrying out the same duties as they currently do, during office hours (8am-6pm), this option will add another facet to the Barnet Homes Call Centre further supporting the diversity of work that this service area carries.
  • The current night operators will be consulted with and will either be TUPE’d to the procured provider, be redeployed within The Barnet Group, or be made redundant.
  • Where the impact of the changes to individual’s salaries and contractual obligations are impacted negatively by -10% (gross) or higher they will be offered redeployment or redundancy if a suitable alternative cannot be found.
  • All mobile response officer (MRO) work patterns will be reviewed to ensure that there is full cover for the service and capacity for growth.
  • There will be a reduction of one senior post.
  • The standby rate will remain at £26.76, this will be cost neutral for the Barnet MRO’s and an increase for the Brent MRO’s.
  • Removal of the car allowance with all mileage paid at 60p per mile.

Barnet Alliance AGM Wednesday 4th July 6.30pm

This is a formal notification of BAPS AGM and relaunch, which will take place on Wednesday 4th July 6.30 pm at the Greek Cypriot Centre 2 Britannia Road N12 9RU.

 

Confirmed Speakers include:

Steve Hedley, Assistant General Secretary RMT
Shen, Mcstriker
Mr Reasonable: John Dix
Barry Rawlings, Leader of the Barnet Labour Group

Unconfirmed Speakers:

Richard Cornelius Leader of the Barnet Conservative administration

#BarnetOption3
#KickOutCapita

Please find attached BAPS constitution: Barnet Alliance for Public Services – Final Constitution

Financial Meltdown in Barnet – Read Mr Reasonable

FULL POST HERE.

Yesterday Barnet published the agenda for the Policy & Resources committee next Monday which you can read here.  I am used to surprises but this one was gobsmacking. I blogged just a couple of weeks ago about the parlous state of Barnet’s finances including the Medium Term Financial Strategy  (MTFS) published in February. Yesterday Barnet published a revised MTFS.

So whereas in February they were forecasting a shortfall of £2.79 million in 2018/19 they are now forecasting a £9.5 million shortfall and in 2019/20 the shortfall jumps from £8.2 million to £19.3 million all in the space of four months. The long term prospects are apocalyptic with a shortfall of £42 million in 2021/22 and by 2023/24 a “high level calculation” showing a shortfall of £62 million. This means the council can no longer exist in its current form.

I simply cannot believe that in February – before the election – no one was aware of just how bad the financial situation was, in which case were the electorate misled?

5th of June: Environment Committee decides the fate of Street Scene services

5th June 6.30pm
Hendon Town Hall, The Burroughs, NW4 4BG
Environment Committee decides the fate of Street Scene services.
http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/5-June-A5-flyer-1.pdf

Street Scene workers have gone through many changes over the last three years. Senior managers have come and gone, and each one has brought their own ideas of how to run the service and in some cases this has meant cuts to staff and changes to the way you work. On Tuesday 5 June, 2018, Barnet councillors are being asked to agree a whole load of changes to Street Scene services, most of which will have an impact on staff and residents. In all of my time as a trade union organiser in Barnet I have never seen Street Scene workers turn up for a Barnet Council meeting. It is my view that for your voice to be heard, Street Scene workers need to turn up to meet the councillors who will vote on the proposed changes. Over the next few days Barnet UNISON will be issuing reminders to all of our members about the need to attend this meeting.
I hope that you will be able to join me there.
Solidarity,
John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON

The Return of Barnet Alliance for Public Services: Time to Kick Out Capita!

Last night, one of London’s longest running anti-austerity campaigns reconvened with a packed meeting at Finchley’s Greek Cypriot Centre. At our last trades council meeting on Thursday, we had resolved to get organising the re-elected Tory council as soon as possible, and this was an excellent start.

The initial presentation came from the one and only Mr Reasonable, John Dix, who had a comprehensive report on just how bad the past five years of mismanagement by Capita, the woefully incompetent and self-serving outsourcing giant to which the Conservatives have entrusted almost our entire borough. The Tories claim that the deal saves money, which might even be true if over-billing, contract variation and “special projects” weren’t absolutely rife. Combine this with the Tories failing to make even the most limited council tax rises for many years (even when their associates in other councils were doing so!) and the fact that Capita fees, astonishingly, rise with RPI inflation and there is a multi-million pound shortfall coming in Barnet’s finances. Auditors have expressed severe doubts that the Tories can possibly fill the gap by 2020 or 2021. You can read John’s full report on his blog.

John was followed by fellow campaigning blogger, Roger Titchbourne of the Barnet Eye. Roger issued a call to arms for activists from across the movement and different parties to unite under a simple slogan: Kick Out Capita! This is going to be the new focus for BAPS, and we’ll be starting with a series of musical and cultural events around the borough.

Finally, we were joined by a very special guest and great friend, John McDonnell MP. The shadow chancellor joined us fresh from address the PCS public sector union’s conference, and spoke about how that union was taking its own action to save essential services. He reiterated that the Labour Party has committed to ending privatisation and bringing failing contracts like Capita back in-house where they belong. Research by the University of Greenwich has shown that far from costing money, this approach would pay for itself in a matter of years. Answering question from some of BAPS’ members, John also touched on some other areas:

  • Labour intends to crack-down on the massive tax evasion and money laundering that goes on in London, which is estimated to be of the order of £92 million annually and strongly tied to international crime.
  • Labour has realised that simply dragging voters to the polls when election day comes will not win the next election. There has to be a turn to community activism and the party is appointing community organisers to help make this happen.
  • There has to be a renewed assertion of a right to a commons in Britain – including of land itself – in order to make society more just, and Labour is working with figure like George Monbiot on policy.

The relaunch was an excellent step in the right direction. Now we have to get the message out there and take the fight to Capita. BAPS will now be meeting every Tuesday at 6.30pm in the Cypriot Centre. Why not come along and join the movement against corporate greed to make Barnet a better place to live?

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