Barnet UNISON launch “We are Barnet” – Pay like Barnet!

Barnet UNISON has published its Pay and Conditions Claim 2021 report to The Barnet Group (TBG), the London Borough of Barnet’s arms length company which delivers housing, physical and learning disability, residential and social care and other services. It had 300 employees in 2012 which increased to 1,150 by 2020.

The report details the employment policies and exposes the corporate operations of TBG and its five subsidiaries in the 2012-2020 period.

Between three and six TBG executive directors received a total of £3,843,000 in salaries between 2012-2019, plus £259,000 in performance bonuses, £32,000 as honoraria, plus £465,000 paid into their pension scheme. “Where is the justice in executive directors of The Barnet Group sharing £259,000 performance bonuses between 2012 and 2020 when frontline workers got nothing?” A Barnet Group worker

The total salaries of Executive Directors increased 11.8% between 2019 and 2020. Meanwhile, many staff did not get a pay rise for eight years and are barred from the Local Government Pension Scheme and instead offered a very inferior scheme.

“I have rarely discovered such a deeply embedded scale of inequalities and exploitation in a local authority arms-length company. This a damning indictment on the London Borough of Barnet who have colluded with this model for nearly a decade.” Dexter Whitfield, Director, European Services Strategy Unit.

see publications for more details of the report

626 transactions in global renewable energy secondary market in 20 months in 2019-2020 cost US$289bn

The growing renewable energy secondary market reflects the extent to which the sector has become financialised, marketised and privatised. The secondary market provides a mechanism for investors to extract profit at the development or operational stages of renewable energy projects.

Detailed evidence of the global scale and scope of this market is set out in The Financialisation, Marketisation and Privatisation of Renewable Energy, ESSU Report No. 12 and a companion database which provides information on the 626 transactions between January 2019 and August 2020. Renewable energy electricity generation is largely in the control of finance capital and market forces so, that by 2050, generation, distribution and supply could be substantially owned and controlled by the private sector.

The public policy agenda must change from general demands for climate action and targets to those that focus on how the targets are going to be met and to rapidly increase public provision of power generation. The report sets out proposals to significantly increase public ownership and operation of renewable energy projects and to increase the scope and powers of regulatory frameworks.

The case aganst a secondary market in renewable energy assets and ten key strategies for public ownership are set out in the Public Ownership and Provison section of the website.

Why Barnet’s Education and Skills must be an in-house service

“Barnet Council’s draft Equality Impact Assessment is fundamentally inadequate because it does not assess the impact of the two options on the equality groups and assumes no negative impact. But there is a world of difference in terms and conditions, particularly pensions, between being transferred to the Council and being transferred to a Local Authority Controlled Company which currently does not exist and will be modelled on other Council arms length companies that have inferior terms and conditions. Therefore the Equality Impact Assessment must be rewritten.”

Dexter Whitfield

“Why, why, why are Barnet Council making this crisis worse? The contractor is dumping the contract through no fault of the staff. All the staff want hear from Barnet Council are these two little words “Welcome Back”. The evidence for returning the hard working Education and Skills workforce is contained within the Joint Trade Union report written By Dexter Whitfield.”

John Burgess Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON.

It is clear that the best option is for Education and Skills to return the council.   Employment will be less attractive with an LACC resulting in it being harder to recruit and retain the experienced staff required and this can only mean an inferior service for schools and the young people of Barnet.

Keith Nason, Secretary Barnet NEU.

“The comparison of key criteria in this report makes it clear to the advantages of an in-house option and I encourage GMB members’ to read this detailed report.

Outsourcing has been bad news for Barnet staff. Time and time again, we have seen private providers fail to deliver while members’ terms and conditions and national agreements have been undermined.

GMB are clear that it is better value for services such as this to be brought back in-house.”

Mary Goodson, GMB Barnet Branch Secretary & Krissy O’Hagan, GMB London Region Organiser.

The following Trade Unions representing workers from Cambridge Education have worked together with their members and Dexter Whitfield to produce a report to Barnet Council.

  • NEU
  • GMB
  • Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP)

Summary of the report

The two options of in-house provision or establishing new Local Authority Controlled Company (LACC) are examined using 12 key criteria (see Table 1) with in-house provision having significant advantages over the latter.

1.The Council’s draft Equalities Impact Assessment is significantly flawed because it concludes there is ‘No Impact’ for any of the equality groups when in fact there is a Positive Impact for all equality groups with the in-house option but a Major Negative Impact for all equality groups with the LACC option.

2. We have examined the ability of Education and Skills to retain and recruit qualified and experienced staff and conclude that the continuity of service and quality of pension schemes are fundamentally important. The LACC option fails on both these criteria.

3. A sustainable motivated workforce to provide the range and quality of services required by schools, parents and children for their physical and mental health is dependent on the retention of the existing staff and the recruitment of new qualified and experienced staff is critically important to ensure high quality services for Barnet Schools.

4. A divided, demoralised workforce as a result of a differential in terms and conditions combined with an inability to retain and recruit qualified staff is inherent in the LACC model and will have a long lasting negative impact in education and the community.

5. The Council has failed to prepare a full Equality Impact Assessment for the consultation process.

6. The Council has stated that the Equality Impact Assessment and the full business case will only be completed after the consultation feedback deadline of 4pm 3 July 2020. This contradicts Government policy set out in the Green Book, and ignores over a decade of established custom and practice in Barnet and is likely to fail to take full account of key and other unforeseen emerging issues.

7. The multinational Mott MacDonald’s use of the Force Majeure contract clause raises many questions given that Barnet’s Education and Skills contract represented just 0.23% of the company’s £771m annual turnover in 2019. The fact that all local authorities with education responsibilities, teachers and parents are confronted by the same impact of COVID-19 raises questions over the real motives of this decision.


1. We strongly recommend that Barnet Council transfers Education and Skills staff from Cambridge Education back to direct employment in the Council.

2. We recommend that the contract management functions of the ISS catering contract, which is going to be novated to the Council, are established in the Education Department.

Download the full report

Dexter Whitfield: How to create a public alternative to the privatization of life

He argues that public ownership and re-municipalisation alone are insufficient to combat the culture of neoliberalism in our society in an article in advance of the Edinburgh book launch.

A book launch for ‘Public Alternative to the Privatisation of Life’ chaired by Common Weal director Robin McAlpine, organised by Jubilee Scotland, will be held on 28 January 2020, 3.30pm – 5.00pm at the Augustine United Church, 41 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh. Attendance is free, but those interested at encouraged to book via Eventbrite.

The event was very successful with nearly 40 people engaging in discussion about the key strategies raised in the book and recent/current struggles in Edinburgh. Many thanks to Jubilee Scotland and Robin McAlpine.

Update on buying Public Alternative to the Privatisation of Life

Available now
Spokesman Books Paperback edition – £25.00 plus postage – UK and overseas
eBook/pdf edition – £15.00
Amazon UK Kindle Edition £15.00
Amazon Italy Kindle Edition €17.51
Amazon Germany Kindle Edition €17.51
Amazon Australia. Kindle Edition A$28.39
Amazon USA Kindle Edition US$19.35
Amazon Canada Kindle Edition CDN$25.59

Available 1 January 2020
Book Depository Paperback Edition 10% off
Amazon Italy Paperback Edition €30.10

Avaliable 20 January
Paperback in general distribution and bookshops

Now published: Public Alternative to the Privatisation of Life

Public Alternative to the Privatisation of Life
provides comprehensive evidence of the failure of privatization and the economic, social and environmental damage to people’s lives, working conditions and undermining of equalities.
It details radical strategies for decommodification
for a new era of public ownership and provision
with participative and democratic accountability, quality public services, the preservation of nature
and sustainable climate action.

One of the most detailed examinations of the failures of privatisation and neo-liberalism – a book that delivers both incisive critique and an alternative vision.”  Professor John Spoehr, Pro Vice-Chancellor – Research Impact and Director of the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute, Flinders University, Adelaide.

“Dexter Whitfield shows how privatisation damages our public services, increases inequality, undermines public pensions or exacerbates the climate crisis – a highly topical and well-researched book. And most importantly, it shows how things can be done differently.”  Laura Valentukeviciute and Carl Waßmuth, Gemeingut in BürgerInnenhand, Germany.

At a time when there is a growing consensus that free-market fundamentalism needs to be abandoned, Dexter Whitfield sets out how public services can be delivered using different models and for the benefit of all.”  Stewart Smyth, PhD. Director, The Centre for Research into Accounting and Finance in Context (CRAFiC), Sheffield University Management School.

“I strongly recommend this book. His attention to detail is critical to an understanding about the long-term damage of marketisation and provides a clear warning about not adopting ‘ill-thought out approaches’ that could leave public services open to future attacks from privatisation.”  John Burgess, Barnet UNISON Branch Secretary, London.

“For Trade Unionists, Community Activists, Progressive Politicians. This book provides the research, analysis and strategy for resisting privatisation whilst demanding reform and renaissance in Public Services.”  Richard Whyte, Regional Officer, Unite, Scotland.

Further details in Public Ownership and Provision section

HICL Infrastructure to relocate to UK from Guernsey

HICL Infrastructure Company Limited has announced that it would be in the best interests of both the Company and its shareholders as a whole to change the domicile and tax residency of HICL’s investment business to the UK through the creation of a new UK incorporated company whose shares would be listed on the UKLA’s Official List and admitted to the main market of the London Stock Exchange to which all of the Company’s assets would be transferred” (Regulated News Service, 21 November 2018).

The change is expected to be effective from 31 March 2019 or shortly after.

Terminate the Capita Contracts and Redesign the Council

A demand to terminate Barnet Council’s Capita Contracts and Redesign the Council has been made by Barnet UNISON.

Barnet Council plans to carry out a review of three options – either to maintain the status quo, return some services in-house or to terminate both the back-office services and regeneration contracts and return to in-house provision. However, the Branch are convinced that Capita’s contract performance failures warrant immediate termination of both contracts which makes a review pointless. This should be accompanied by a redesign of the Council to integrate services and abolish commissioning; service planning with users and staff participation; social, economic, equality, environmental impact assessment and rebuilding the capability and capacity of the Council.

Further Internal Audit evidence is provided of Capita’s continuing poor performance and its failure to fully implement the Adult Social Care IT system which now has to be replaced.

See earlier report in 2018 on How the London Borough of Barnet was stopped from becoming the capital of outsourcing and privatisation.

Offshore links to Scottish private finance deals with pension fund investment

An investigation into the ownership and offshoring of Scotland’s NPD and Hub Projects reveals that 60% of NPD (Non-Profit Distributing) and hub projects have shareholders with corporate relationships with offshore tax havens of Jersey, Guernsey, Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, Dubai International Financial Centre, Luxembourg and Cyprus. The investigation was commissioned by The Guardian and by The Ferret investigative journalism platform, both of which have published detailed analysis of the findings. Public sector pension funds are heavily involved, for example, Strathclyde Pension Fund has £80m investment in Equitix (Tetragon Financial Group Limited, Guernsey).

In addition to the report, a spreadsheet summary of NPD and Hub equity ownership a summary of Tetragon:Equitix Company ownership as revealed in company annual reports, and a spreadsheet of NPD and Hubco Auditors and lawyers is also available.


Nationalising Special Purpose Vehicles to end PFI: A discussion of the costs and benefits

The paper by Dr Helen Mercer and Professor Dexter Whitfield is available via the Public Services International Research Unit, University of Greenwich.


The article’s principal purpose is to provide an initial set of costings relating to the proposal to end PFIs in the UK through nationalising the Special Purpose Vehicles. The article uses book value to estimate that the cost of compensating the shareholders of the SPVs on HM Treasury database would be between £2.3bn and £2.5bn. It further analyse the potential savings to public authorities. The article proposes that service contracts are renegotiated so that the public authorities contract directly with the providers, not via the SPV. This secures significant annual savings from the elimination of operating profits, of £1.4bn, indicating that nationalisation will pay for itself within two years. Further the article proposes to honour all outstanding liabilities but to secure substantial refinancing through a new body in which ownership of the SPVs will be vested.

Finally the article suggests that as service contracts are ended, either through break clauses or other reasons, the public authorities must bring provision ‘in-house’, ending outsourcing and also providing further savings from more rational and integrated provision. The approach has been developed on the basis of significant research into how PFIs operate and consideration of the range of alternative solutions to the PFI problem that have been put forward so far. These issues are also explained and developed in the article.

Third edition, May 2019, including appendix 2 with comments on CHPI’s revised paper and Appendix 3 with comments on CHPI paper.