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100 reasons why Barnet council’s mass-outsourcing plan is high risk

This is a post from Barnet Unison.

For several years now, Barnet bloggers, residents and union members have been fighting a Barnet council proposal to mass-outsource council services to the private sector. This mass-privatisation plan is called One Barnet.

With the help of bloggers, residents and activists, Barnet Unison has put together a list of 100 examples of failed privatisation deals around the country, reasons not to privatise council services and blogposts by local bloggers which argue against outsourcing.

The list includes problems with G4s security leading up to the Olympics, administration looming as private company Mouchel (which runs departments at Bournemouth council) runs into trouble, Bournemouth Council chiefs bringing finance, HR and IT staff back inhouse from outsourcing partner Mouchel, Somerset council taking services and 160 staff back inhouse from Southwest One – a failed multimillion-pound partnership which was meant to provide back office services like IT systems, payroll and purchasing - and many others.

The list will be of interest to anyone who wants to know more about failed privatisation projects and to see links to the reports Barnet Unison has produced which explain why Barnet council's plans to outsource are so risky.

This post from Barnet Unison explains more:

On Thursday 6 December at 7pm in Hendon Town Hall, members of Barnet Council Cabinet Resources Committee will formally award a ten year contract to either BT or Capita to provide key council services.

UNISON has published a link to a list of 100 reasons why One Barnet is high risk and bad for residents and services to demonstrate the serious risk and concerns which have been raised by local trade unions, staff, and residents over the last four years.

Over the last four years, our union has submitted over 30 detailed reports to the council in an attempt to discuss an alternative less risk approach to delivering services to the residents of Barnet.

But time is running out. On 6 December, a handful of Conservative councillors will sit in a committee room in Hendon Town Hall and agree a contract worth up to £750 million to either Capita or BT.

Branch Secretary John Burgess said “We are asking for a public sector comparator to be developed using in house local expertise. We are concerned big business views Barnet Council services as simply a line on a spreadsheet”

This weekend, Barnet residents will lobby councillors with concerns about privatisation:

Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) will lobby Councillors from Underhill and High Barnet wards at their surgeries at Chipping Barnet Library, from 10.30am to 12pm on Saturday 15 September, with their concerns about Barnet Council’s radical ‘One Barnet’ privatisation programme.

The plan could see 90% of council staff transferred to the private sector, and carries a 25% risk of failure.

BAPS will present their ‘Our Barnet’ residents’ bid to councillors.

BAPS coordinator Tirza Waisel says:

“Barnet Council has never asked residents whether they want up to 90% of services to be outsourced to private companies. If companies such as BT and Capita are allowed to bid for £750m of our money to run our services, why can’t residents put in a ‘bid’ too? Our bid proposes, instead of outsourcing, to keep services inhouse and to improve them in consultation with residents, service users and staff. We believe we can save money, keep control and have better services.”

BAPS will also present councillors with a copy of the recent study into Barnet Council procurement and contract management by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE), which concluded:

“The evidence considered in this report indicates that there can be little confidence that Barnet has the capability, and perhaps more worryingly the culture, necessary to meet the challenge posed by the letting and management of contracts that, under the One Barnet plan, will be far bigger than anything the Council has previously dealt with.”

Saturday’s lobby is part of a programme of events throughout the autumn, aimed at gathering signatures on a petition asking Barnet Council to put the ‘One Barnet’ plan to a referendum of residents.
1.    BT and Capita recently submitted bids for the New Support and Customer Services Organisation (NSCSO) contract with Barnet Council, worth £750 million over 10 years. A second contract covering Development and Regulatory Services (DRS) worth £275 million over 10 years is also being offered and will be bid for by Capita Symonds and EC Harris; a contract for ‘street scene’ services is likely to follow.
2.    Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) is a coalition of residents, trade unionists and community campaigners in the London Borough of Barnet, formed to defend and improve public services.
3.    APSE report “London Borough of Barnet: Procurement and Contract Management”: http://alturl.com/quf56
4.    BAPS ‘One Barnet’ referendum petition: http://petitions.barnet.gov.uk/StopOneBarnet/


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