Friday, 20 April 2012

One Barnet Outsourcing - Do residents really understand what it is all about

Last night I gave a short talk at the Annual General Meeting of the Friern Barnet & Whetstone Residents' Association. I spoke about One Barnet Outsourcing, what services were going to be outsourced and who was bidding. The impression I got was that a great many people in Barnet are completely unaware of the scale of outsourcing taking place and the fact that so many different services will be run by two, or possibly even one company with all the attendant risks that brings.

I have been concerned about the One Barnet outsourcing scheme from day one. I am not opposed to the principle of outsourcing but only where is makes sense and is not a core element of organisations business. The scale of this outsourcing project is immense with the two main contracts valued at more than £1 Billion.

What marks Barnet Council out as different is the fact that some many of core services will be operated by a single company for ten years. If this current ruling group lose control of the council at the next local election in 2014, the incoming regime will be tied up in these contract that go on well beyond their own term of office.

This is an area that needs much greater debate, something that Barnet Council seem determined to prevent. It might help if BT, Capita and EC Harris, the three companies bidding to win these two outsourcing contracts came and talked to the residents they are proposing to serve. It might help to provide some reassurance that they will not ship jobs off to India, that they will not increase charges, that they will respond quickly and openly to FOI request and that they will engage with residents on scrutiny panels. Here is your chance Capita, BT or EC Harris to prove that you could deliver an excellent service for less money. Get in touch!


  1. thank you for coming last night & for you talk which helped me understand about the outsourcing you must do more talkes on them well done

  2. You ask whether residents really understand what outsourcing is all about. Surely, the more pertinent question is whether the councillors and officers understand? I don’t think that they do. If they did, they would insist on short term trial contracts for a few services, rather than rolling out the whole service, lock stock and barrel in one fell swoop.

    It is not merely reckless to outsource contracts in this manner - it is insane. No company in the private sector would rip the guts out of their business model like this without testing the water.

    The news is full of outsourcing disaster stories from around the country. What makes Barnet so smart that they will not suffer the same problems? Are the contracts water tight so that services can be returned in-house if contractors fail to perform? Given the level of competence in the legal department, this seems highly unlikely.

    Ironically, the department which should be outsourced is the legal department. If the council used external solicitors to draw up the contracts, at least there would be someone to sue when it all goes bosoms-up (as it inevitably will).

  3. DCMD, I am not convinced that all the councillors who voted for One Barnet really do understand the process. However it is the public who vote for these councillors so perhaps we have to start by making them aware of the decisions councillors are making in the hope that they either ask a lot more questions or vote for someone more sensible at the next election.

  4. Absolutely none of our customers have ever heard of One Barnet and neither had I until I discovered the Famous Five.

    When I tell that of what is about to happen they are HORRIFIED! You should see their faces. Sadly, this is the best kept secret in Barnet.