Next Monday, the members of the Cabinet Resources Committee are going to rubber stamp yet another scheme to outsource services at Barnet Council. I have read the Business Case and basically it all boils down to a question of trust.
Do I trust a set of assumptions about the level of cost reductions and income increases which have absolutely not a single piece of supporting evidence other than trusting the people who are putting forward this scheme?
Do I trust the assumption they have made about the on costs that will be saved – that includes all that expensive IT investment that the council have been spending money on for the last 6 years.
Do I trust the assumption that they will have to retain 7.5% of the workforce to deal with all the elements that legally the council are not allowed to outsource – even though nobody seems to know?
Do I trust the assumptions on the sensitivity analysis that the best and worst case is only 10% away from the other assumptions – so for Planning that means that at worst they will save 18% and at best 22% or maybe even more?
Do I trust the assumption that there are only 4 key risks and that the mitigation steps will adequately address them?
Do I trust the private sector to deliver savings of as much as 20% whilst at the same time making investment in the services and leaving enough for a profit to satisfy their shareholders?
Do I trust the private sector to provide the level of transparency and governance standards that we currently expect (although don’t always receive) from a public sector?
Do I trust a process where the council enter an 18 month negotiating process without knowing what they are going to end up with at the end?
Well, for me the level of trust required here looks more like blind faith and I’m not that gullible. Frankly, it amazes me that any councillor can vote for something that requires this level of trust. It also amazes me that the ratepayers of Barnet trust councillors to make these decisions.
I implore every single ratepayer in Barnet to ask their councillor how they can take such a risky decision based almost exclusively on trust.