Thursday, 7 July 2011

More One Barnet Costs - when will they start saving money?

The costs of the One Barnet programme continue to rise. Not satisfied with a huge raft of consultants, Barnet is now recruiting a “Service Lead for New Support and Customer Services Organisation”. This person will help with the negotiation of the contract and will be employed on a fixed term contract for a maximum of two years at a cost to Barnet ratepayers of £103,198 - £112,059 per annum. Just last week the council approved the recruitment of two more One Barnet project assistants at a cost of £150,000.

Someone really needs to get a grip on the amount of money being spent on the One Barnet programme. Highly paid staff One Barnet staff; consultants costing millions. Having spent several hours on Monday at North London Business Park ploughing through supplier invoices I am utterly shocked at just how much money is being paid out on various One Barnet initiatives. This is a classic “Emperor’s New Clothes” syndrome. For goodness sake Barnet councillors, wake up and realise One Barnet is a massive money pit and as yet there is no EVIDENCE that is will actually generate any savings whatsoever.


  1. Good timing Mr Reasonable. Mr Mustard has been looking at some old Delegated Powers Reports about Customer Services and wondered what was going on.

    DPR 1019 from 21 April 2010 created the role of Service Developement Officer at a salary of £42,850 to £46,590 and this is all they had to do.

    "To manage operational activities for Customer Services including ordering of goods and services. ( including security ? )
    To manage small scale service improvement projects as directed by the Head of Customer Services. ( small scale - no ambition !! )
    To lead on Customer Service training and development across the organisation."

    They look well overpaid for making small scale improvements ?

    and then in DPR 1088 a Contact Centre Consolidation Manager was recruited on a fixed term to 31 March 2011. They were paid ££46,962 to £49,836 as they had 4 projects to achieve,viz

    "Consolidation – Bringing all ‘discovery’ type activities of the council into a single contact centre (telephone, post, e-mail, data submitted via the web);

    Channel shift – Encouraging use of the web as the preferred method of contacting the Council;

    Customer Relationship Management – Collecting data on our customers’ use of services and preferred ways of contacting the organisation, and adapting the service provided appropriately; and

    Commissioning a new Customer Services Organisation (CSO) – Initiating a dialogue with the suppliers with a view to developing a new Customer Service Organisation and externalising a range of customer service activities. ( Entire department about to be externalised ! )"

    Did they leave on 31 March 2011 ?

    In April 2011 the structure was fiddled with and various customer services posts were moved around like deckchairs from one dept. to another - see DPR 1311.

    If we look at the options appraisal business case thingy report whatnot we see that Customer Services answer the following ( sorry this is turning into a blog ! )

    The customer service team currently covers initial contact of six areas of planning, building control, street scene, parking, children’s information service, assisted travel, the council switchboard and two face to face customer access points at Burnt Oak and Barnet House and council reception at the North London Business Park.

    The areas of contact cover
    planning enforcement,
    noise nuisance,
    miscellaneous environmental health queries, requests for recycling boxes and green waste bins, ( but May Gurney should handle the ones for recycling boxes )
    reporting fly-tipping and pavements damage, renewing parking permits,
    appealing penalty charge notices and
    related parking payments,
    enquiries related to school admissions, pre-schools,
    family support and
    tax credit and
    blue badges and
    freedom pass applications.

    Where are the walking wikipedias who can take questions off the cuff on that lot. Nowhere.

    It would be much better not to have a central customer services point and let each department answer its own queries as a matter of routine. No extra staff would be required, except in parking. Each planning officer say would field questions about the applications that they were the lead for. Simple and cost effective.

    One Barnet - Two Faced ?

  2. "This person will help with the negotiation of the contract and will be employed on a fixed term contract for a maximum of two years at a cost to Barnet ratepayers of £103,198 - £112,059 per annum"

    Hang on. They're spending upwards of £100k on negotiators, whilst trying to close public services. This is nothing to do with balancing the books, it's ideological.