A Guest Blog by John Sullivan,
And so as predicted by many people other than our Local Tory Councillors' and their expensive advisers consultants and lawyers that have cost Barnet taxpayers millions to date the One Barnet Programme better known as OBP or " The Billion Pound Gamble " is failing big time, before it even gets off the ground and that is official.
The company known as Your Choice that was formed without offering those affected by its formation any Choice, was launched on a business plan that even Mickey Mouse would have seen the flaws in. This company is a subsidiary of Barnet Homes and Barnet Homes was the very first phase of the OBP project, just one year after the launch they are having to loan Your Choice "ONE MILLION POUNDS " to keep them solvent and comply with the contractual terms of their agreement with LBB.
What puzzles me initially is having read the front page story in The Press this week from the councillor in charge of housing, that Barnet will have to ship people out of Barnet due to a shortage of affordable homes. How in the name of all that is holy can Barnet Homes afford to loan out "ONE MILLION POUND ", that should so obviously be being used for the provision of the desperately needed affordable homes the councillor refers to. Call me thick if you wish but I just don't get it for me it makes no sense at all, and trust me I am not making this up.
Not only that they are loaning this money to Your Choice on the basis of a newly formed business plan presented to the world on 1st March, the author of which has already resigned so one must realistically assume she has little confidence in the new plan. Or could it be that the plan that is purely and simply about upping the profit margins of the company and has absolutely nothing to do with quality of care, is to be based on the devastation of the staff caring for the sick the disabled staff that have given one hundred percent support in the last year. Who will suffer the complete and utter demolition of their working conditions and as a result the moral of fabulous staff, staff that have through their own initiatives and efforts in many ways , been the driving force behind Your Choice being allowed to limp through it s first year. Due to a business plan that was never going to work that is being followed by yet another business plan that will fail.
"THE QUALITY OF THE SERVICE IS DETEMINED BY THE QUALITY OF THE STAFF EMPLOYED "
The quality and experience of the staff is vital in the field of social care, we only have to cast our minds back just a few short months to the horrors of Winterbourne View and this revised plan launched on March 1st by Your Choice is a blueprint for a "Winterbourne View " in Barnet
Why is it Tories believe that a business is only as good as the staff it employs and the quality of the service is reliant on the quality of the people employed until it gets to public services, such as the care of the elderly the sick the disabled and the infirm and when they get there any Tom Dick or Harry will suffice.
The new business plan will sack or demote the very people that have kept this misguided privatisation of social care from sinking many months ago, but for the efforts of these coal face managers and team leaders the privatisation would have fallen at the first hurdle.
Their reward is the sack or demotion and a reduction in their wages, the removal of overtime rates for working weekends and evenings , in fact the removal of all but a reduced basic wage no matter what hours they work and on what day or what time of the day on top of that they will have to work 7 days a week shifts rather than five with no overtime rates
This abomination of a plan will demotivate very special people, looking after the disabled and those with a disability is the domain of very special people they are unique they are rare, more importantly they have a vocation and a love for the people they care for. They will be replaced yes but with whom, will it be with people forced to do the job or lose their dole money, if so will those people have the same commitment to these folk will they develop a vocation for what is one of the most difficult and sensitive tasks in public service I think not.
This new plan is an abomination it is an abortion it is a plan about profit and not the welfare of vulnerable people, it has nothing to do with quality of life or quality of care it is all about being competitive in the market place I repeat it is an abomination.
I have been challenging the long term viability of the Your Choice privatisation from the outset, I have spoken with some of the biggest legal firms in the country expressing my fears for the long term future of care for my daughter Susan. From London Borough of Barnet and Your Choice I have been met with obfuscation, misinformation standard bullshit replies and even blatant lies, I have even now been threatened with legal action for telling the truth. Because it turns out I have had every good reason to concern myself, I even predicted from the outset that the quality staff would eventually be replaced by cheap labour to maximise profits and tragically I have been proven right.
Social care and adult service are the responsibility of the people of the borough and that responsibility that duty of care to these vulnerable people is placed in the hands of local councillors in trust. Barnet council have abused that trust by trying to make a profit from this vulnerable group which for me is immoral.
Councillor Rajput one of the architects of the Your Choice business plan disaster allegedly said if the plan fails we will take the service back in-house, I am asking the people of Barnet to demand that all services currently run by the failed Your Choice be brought back in -house, that is the only way our duty of care to these folk can be ensured, Your Choice is a failed experiment in fact it is a bloody disaster it is a Winterbourne View waiting to happen and these services should now be brought back in-house.
Have a look at the policy abomination of 1st march and form your own views by visiting the link here
Contact your local councillors via this link and demand these services are brought back in-houseBarnet Eye Note - There is a board meeting of "The Barnet Group" which is the "parent company" of Your Choice Barnet, they have invited people to attend. I urge anyone who is concerned to turn up. It is at 6pm On Monday 4th March at Barnet House, 1255 High Road, Whetstone N20 0EJ - details here
John Sullivan is a Barnet resident and carer. Guest blogs are always welcome at the Barnet Eye.