Celebrating 50 years of SCAT, CPS and ESSU

1 June 1973 – 2023
We have produced a concise summary of the strategies, alternatives and support to tenants and resident’s groups, community campaigns, trade unions and public sector organisations taking action to improve the public infrastructure and public services. The report covers:

  • Objectives, working practices and funding
  • Major challenges and projects
  • Significant changes in the political economy since 1973
  • Opposition to the sale or transfer of Council Housing to tenants, housing associations or arms-length companies
  • Action to retain and improve public services
  • Equal Opportunity impacts
  • North West Regional analysis
  • Health and Social Care Economies
  • Public policy best practice
  • New Labour’s failed PPP Strategic Partnerships for services
  • Critical analysis of Public Private Partnerships for public infrastructure
  • Public transport
  • Public Service Action
  • International projects
  • Website – high level of users and document downloads
  • SCAT, CPS and ESSU staff
  • Organisations we have worked with



Community Action Magazine 1972-1990 Digital Access

Published from 1972-1990, Community Action (CA) magazine documents a range of community-led activism and campaigning in and around the built environment, primarily in the United Kingdom. Founded by a group of radical planners who had grown disillusioned with the exclusionary and conservative nature of contemporary practice, the magazine sought to connect grassroots initiatives around the country, increasing their political purchase at a time of significant social and economic upheaval. The activity covered includes but is not limited to: opposition to slum clearance and urban motorways; tenant organising; alternative plans; advice centres; the women’s movement; workplace activism; disability rights and community transport. Archived here in its entirety, the magazine provides fascinating insight into the role and nature of oppositional community action, as the paternalistic post-war settlement disintegrated, giving way to the privatisations and reactionary individualism of the 1980s.


Many thanks to Peoplesplans.org and Sheffield University Department for Urban Studies and Planning

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

Options Appraisal Opposes Outsourcing and Offshoring of Prescription Pricing Division, NHS Business Services Authority

ESSU was commissioned by UNISON Northern to prepare a detailed report on a PPD/KPMG proposal to outsource and offshore prescription processing. This comprehensive report examines value for money, risk assessment, insourcing trends, public cost analysis and other issues. A decision to outsource was expected in November 2006 but has been postponed indefinitly following intervention by the Health Minister.

The Prescription Pricing Division (PPD) of the NHS Business Services Authority is responsible for the processing and payment of prescriptions from GPs and 10,000 pharmacists. It provides an important financial, prescribing and drug information service to over 35,000 prescribers in England; the help with health costs service to over 5m patients annually and operates the European Health Insurance Card. The PPD processes 755m items on NHS prescriptions annually which have a direct bearing on the £8 billion NHS drugs bill.