Monday, 22 April 2013

Your Choice Barnet - The question that matters

Who are the winners and losers. That is what I ask myself, when I ponder the question of the private company set up by Barnet Council to provide social care in the Borough. The company is called "Your Choice Barnet". Earlier this year Barnet Council had to use taxpayers money to bale it out and stop it going broke. The reason? Because of a reported £2 million defecit in its accounts, after less than a year in business.

They say if you want to know the real story, follow the money. So I ask myself, what has this £2 million extra cash, not in the original plan been spent on? Have recepients of social care all of a sudden been getting Starbucks Cappucinos for 10p instead of the plastic cups of nescafe for £1.00 that they were getting before. Have the mini buses been replaced with a fleet of Rolls Royces. £2,000,000 is a lot of cash. I am not aware of a sudden flood of people needing extra care appearing in the Borough, so what has this cash been spent on? The council have provided social care for years, they know what it cost. It's not like they've set up a new type of technology, that is untried with hidden costs.

So where are the winners in the big £2 million hand out? From what I hear it isn't the people attending day centres or with care needs. I've not heard of anyone saying things have got better and they get more? Have you, if you have I'd love to hear !

So where has all the cash gone? Has it gone to lawyers and accountants, which any new organisation will need? Has it gone setting up a board of directors and paying them generous salaries? Has it gone on new offices and furniture? I'd love to know. For a business with a turnover the size of Your Choice Barnet it has either been spent on things that it wasn't spending on before, things which add nothing to delivery of care, or it has been a case of a monumental failure of the company to have an adequate financial plan.

In either case, the failure has been so spectacular that it has exceeded even the worst and wildest guesses of critics like me by a factor of astronomical proportions.

What happens in most businesses when the management team screw up and a bale out is required? They all get the sack. Fred Goodwin at RBS is one we all know. he bankrupted the bank, so he was sacked and lost his knighthood. Why has no one at the council even mentioned the possibility of sacking the board and taking it over (as happened with RBS)? Why is there not even an acknowledgement that it has gone wrong.

Winners and Losers? That is the question. Who are they? If £2 million has been overspent, someone somewhere must have got a lot of money that wasn't in the original business case. Shouldn't we, as taxpayers, be told who?

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