Sunday, 16 March 2014

Barnet Council underspends £150,000 on agreed programs for NEET youngsters

Ok, first a rant. What do you do on your Sunday Evening? Well I do a weekly trawl through council papers, to see what things our council are up to that You and I should be informed of. I do this because although there are 63 councillors getting paid a MINIMUM of £10,000 a year to do this, most can't be bothered. They just see the cash as a nice bung. I like to think that the reason so many people read this blog is because they want to challenge these lazy B*st*rds when they knock on the door and ask for a vote as to what they've been doing for this cash. Give them hell. All of them. This is the one time in the next four years that they have to pretend to care. Rant over.

Doing my usual weekly trawl through council papers, I came across this document

In it I found this statement
Figures taken from the IYS Management Report October 2013 show  that 49.2% of those classified as NEETs in Barnet have been unemployed between 6 months and 2 years, 39.1% of current were  ‘white British’ – an overrepresentation in the 16-19 cohort as a whole,  of particular concern are the 7.8% of the NEET cohort were not ready / willing to work or learn. 
So the first thing we learn is that Barnet Council is letting down working class families who have a long association with Barnet. Then I learned this
In June 2012, Cabinet agreed £1m of Council ‘Service Priorities’ funds to support the Platforms Programme to be delivered by 31 March 2013. Platforms provides employment and training support for Barnet’s 16-24 year olds who are Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET). 
So the council were planning to spend a  million quid to do something about this (and other issues). That should have been spent by the end of this month. Then we find this out
There could be approximately £150,000 under-spend (as Platforms Phase 2 does not complete until 31 March 2014 this may vary). This is largely due to:

• Payment-by-results projects requiring less funds due to young person leaving project early / lower number of outcomes
• Delays to commissioning the Internship Programme due to the outsourcing of key services and a lengthy procurement exercise
• Business Growth Manager leaving the Council leading to a period of time where the post has been vacant
• Progress on development of Studio School feasibility being dependent on other stakeholders, therefore other transition routes for young people are having to be explored. 
So bullet point 2 tells us that the Councils obsession with outsourcing is directly affecting the most vulnerable youngsters in Barnet. Not only that but bullet point one tells us that the youngsters are leaving schemes early. This indicates to me that they are not fit for purpose. I n short, the council has identified a problem, decided to throw money at it and then failed to organise itself. Whilst I suspect that this particular adminstration could organise a rather good booze up in a brewery, they clearly have shown themselves totally incapable of organising schemes to sort out the most serious problem in Barnet today. Namely the problem of ensuring that we have future generations of people who are properly equipped with the skills for living in the modern world. Failure to spend this money means that people who's lives desperately need turning around are being failed. You may not care about them. You may be totally selfish. Let me appeal to this part of you. What do you think happens when Young people fail in education and training and become unemployable? A proportion will either rely on the State or proceeds of crime. Either way you pay, in your taxes or by the stress of victimhood. You may stick your fingers in your ears, shout "la la la" and say "it isn't my problem.

If you believe this, you are deluded. In a 1968 song by Country Joe and the Fish, there is a line that says "If you won't go to Harlem, then Harlem may just come to you". This was a comment on the problems of the then depriced area of Manhatten. Two years ago I worked with a film director to make a film called "A Tale of Two Barnets" highlighting the differences between the people who are running the council and the people who rely on its services. The truth is that the council is damned by its own papers. Outsourcing, a key council policy, is now being blamed for the failure of initiatives. The Conservative administration claimed this would solve all the ills in Barnet, but their own papers betray this lie. So when your house gets burgled, or your kids start buying crack off disenfranchised gang members on street corners, you know why. It is because the London Borough of Barnet was simply too badly organised to do anything to help those kids turn their lives around. And whatever you think of me or the Barnet Eye blog, you can't argue with this conclusion, because it is there in black and white on the website of our local Conservative Council.

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