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!