Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Barnet - Follow Cornwall's Lead and Pull the Plug on One Barnet

Yesterday in Cornwall, the Council made the sensible decision to step back from mass outsourcing of their services (courtesy of the blog of Cllr Andrew Wallis)

The full motion that was debated was as follows:

1) This Council expresses its thanks to all the people who signed the petition and have thereby strongly engaged in the local democratic process.
2) The current proposals (BT) for the Strategic Partnership for Support Services shall not progress to the Invitation to Final Tender (ItT) until after they have been debated and unless approved by a meeting of Cornwall Council.
3) The Chief Executive be requested to investigated fully, as a matter of urgency, all reasonable alternative methods of delivering the Council services covered by the proposals for the said Strategic Partnership, which addresses the need to make efficiency savings and to generate income including; a thin trading JV working with a commercial partner to deliver services outside Cornwall; a shared services project with local NHS and other public services, but without a private sector partner; an employee owned mutual and other in-house options
4) The Council's draft Business Plan 2012-16 be prepared to reflect recommendations 2 and 3 above.
5) The full Council supports the ongoing work by the SIP for Strategic Services
This was voted on, and carried by 93 for, 7 abstentions, and no-one voting against.

This was yet another of the big outsourcing proposals to have the plug pulled and it leaves Barnet as the sole representative of the mass outsourcing ideology.

On 18th October Stephen Hughes the Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council said "Essentially I believe the traditional outsourcing model isn’t fit for current circumstances". Well if that is the case why won't Barnet see sense and pull back from this outsourcing madness.

In Barnet, residents have never been given the choice of whether they want mass outsourcing. we have not been allowed to debate it in residents forums and the only scrutiny committee debating the issue was closed. Our voices have been ignored. Tonight at the Business Management Overview & scrutiny Committee a petion will be presented asking for the One Barnet programme to be stopped whilst the implications

As I have said on repeated occasions, I have no ideological opposition to outsourcing per se. Understanding why you want to outsource, what you want to achieve and balancing the risk against the reward, all form part of the assessment as to whether outsourcing is the right move. In Barnet's case no consideration was given to an in house team even though on the benchmark research demonstrated that the in house team worked well. major financial savings have been made with the current staff without a single outsourcing contract being in place because at this time the Council retains the flexibility to make those changes. The level of risk that has been built into the contract based on the number and complexity of the services to be provided, the scale of the contract and the ten year term is immense and will have massive financial consequences for the residents of Barnet if it goes wrong.

Now is the time for all of the backbench Conservative councillors to ask themselves the question is this mass outsourcing in Barnet really worth the risk and I hope the answer is NO!

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