10 Apr 2015

Tory Barnet and Labour Brent outsourcing: similarities and differences as Barnet Unison votes to strike

Friday, 10 April 2015

Barnet Tory  'Easy Council' is facing industrial action over its outsourcing of 
services to private -companies. 87% of Unison council workers have voted for 
strike action over the five commissioning projects that were agreed at the 
March 5th Full Council meeting.  

The proposals would mean outsourcing the majority of the Council workforce 

into one of five  'alternative delivery models':

1. Education Skills and School Meals services 
2. Library Service
3. Early Years: Children’s Centres
4. Adult Social Care
5. Street Scene Services

In a press release Unison said the Education & Skills and School Meals
services is already in Competitive Dialogue discussions with the following

· Capita Business Services Ltd

· EC Harris LLP

· Mott MacDonald Ltd, trading as Cambridge Education

Looking at Capita’s track record LINK   in bidding and winning contracts it is 
highly likely they will win this contract making it the third big contract they will 
have won with Barnet Council.

Unison Branch Secretary John Burgess said:

"The vote was never in doubt. The workforce in Barnet is amazing and 
resilient. The vote confirms that our members have had enough of the
ideological obsession with outsourcing. The Council does not value the
workforce which can be seen when unpaid overtime and long hours are
never recognised when putting together bids for outsourcing projects. 
The fact that the Council refuses to run in-house comparators has made
it clear to our members that their future employment with the
Council is threatened."

So where does this leave Brent Labour 'Increasingly uneasy' Council and
 their own  'alternative  models'?

 Using the Brent equivalents of the five Barnet services:

1. Brent Council's School Improvement Service has been run down and

 provides a  core service only with  many functions handed over to the 
 Brent Schools Partnership  and schools buying in other services from a 
 variety of providers,  School meals have  been out-sourced for a long time.
 In addition the Brent Cabinet on April 14th will be  deciding on future 
 provision of Additional Resources Provision and English as an 
 Additional Language  to pupils through a variety of contracts with 
 Academies and  Independent schools LINK

2. Brent Council proposed transferring the management  of the library 
services to an established trust or a new model with similar features.

3. Early Years: Children's Centres - Brent Council has agreed to a 

partnership arrangement with the voluntary  sector or charities.

4. Adult Social Care: There is a proposal going forward to the Brent Cabinet

 on April 14th for Extra Care to  be provided via Direct Payments and a
 contract with Plexus/Mears LINK 

5. Street Scene Services (parks refuse etc) Brent has already outsourced 
street cleaning, recycling, waste collection, parks maintenance, and 
cemeteries to a sole contractor, Veolia. The Cabinet will also be discussing 
extending the contract with Gristwood and Toms for Arboricultural  services
(dealing with trees beyond what Veolia do as part of the parks maintenance

An additional item at the April 14th Brent Cabinet is a proposal to pay 

Penoyre and Prasad LLP £831,250  for work on a hybrid planning application
for the Peel Site on the South Kilburn estate. LINK

I will leave readers to judge the similarities and differences between the

approaches of the two council - one Conservative and the other Labour. 
You may also want to consider why Unison's reaction appears to be different
in the two councils and whether as a result of the Coalition's cuts to local 
government that outsourcing is inevitable...


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