Barnet UNISON and ESSU have published a damming assessment of the London Borough of Barnet’s attempt to become the capital of outsourcing and privatisation. The report, ‘Future Shape’ ‘easyCouncil’ and ‘One Barnet’ = Failure, is highly critical of commissioning and 356% rise in its cost; the £24m spent on the One Barnet programme, mainly the cost of management consultants; the performance problems of the two large multi-service contracts with Capita; and the additional £112m for both contracts in less than half the contract period, which questions the savings claims (Word version also available).
The last four services to treated be with the Alternative Delivery Model approach – Street Scene, Adult Social Care, Libraries and Children’s Services all remained in-house.
Capita is still in crisis – it had a £513m pre-tax loss last and plans a multi-million transformation, investment and cost saving programme over the next three years. It still has £1.1bn debt and a pension deficit of over £400m. Capita will almost certainly intensify financial extraction from its existing and new contracts, which could have a very significant impact on service users, staff and local authorities.
An important lesson is that every outsourcing proposal should be challenged from the start whilst promoting alternatives, workplace organising, building community support and taking selective industrial action. The report sets out an immediate action plan for Barnet Council and a national plan for remunicipalisation – bringing services back in-house. It centres on a commitment to in-house provision with public service innovation and improvement plans and the abolition of commissioning.
Online access to a list of Barnet UNISON reports published 2008-2018 is also available.