Thursday 6 December 2012

Once it's gone it's gone forever. Why One Barnet is such a Massive Gamble

Tonight the Cabinet members will be taking a massive gamble with the future of council services in Barnet. They claim that this is the only way to make savings. I have two responses to that:
  1. I don't believe you because I have identified how you could save £9.5 million a year; and
  2. What have you been doing for the last ten years to get to a situation where a private company can make all these savings, and pay a bl**dy great dividend to their shareholders.
What Cabinet members don't seem to grasp is this is a monster one way deal. Once the services are outsourced they will be gone forever. It will be impossible to reassemble these services because all of the staff will have been dispersed, the IT that runs the Council will be hosted on Capita's hardware infrastructure elsewhere and the lease on Building 4 at NLBP will have been terminated. A decision tonight will mean these services will stay outsourced forever, merely passing between companies as contracts come and go. That gives the outsourcing companies huge power and the Council no power whatsoever  other than to pick a different outsourcing company.

The decision tonight will irrevocable change Barnet and in my opinion not for the better. If you employ staff and they don't deliver you can re-train them or ultimately sack them and bring in new staff. You have direct and immediate control and influence over their priorities and focus. In difficult times staff can be redirected to focus on an emergency.  I remember back in 2009 when there was a massive problem with the gas in East Barnet lots of council staff were redirected to help make sure the elderly and vulnerable were cared for. Will that happen in the future with an outsourcing partner whose staff are in Belfast or Blackburn? With an outsourcing company you get what you are given and the only redress is financial penalties. In the long term that simply doesn't work because it puts a price on failure when actually what you want is success.

I am particularly angry because, with an enlighten leadership, a clear vision developed in conjunction with the community and communicated to staff and residents, Barnet could actually be one of the most progressive, effective and caring boroughs in the country. We have a massive untapped resource in our borough; the residents, who know what they want and the vast majority of the council staff who know exactly how to deliver it. Sadly the Council's current ruling group have managed to successfully alienate both groups and that is a massive lost opportunity. Mass outsourcing is not the long term sustainable solution we need, but the current ruling group are too short sighted, too obsessed with political dogma to see that.

1 comment:

  1. If services do leave the borough and NLBP is vacated I hope that once they come back that the services are spread around the borough in smaller offices in our High Streets so that brings some business to each and every one of them. All 3000 council staff do not need to be in one location as will have been amply demonstrated by spreading them all over the UK.