Sunday, 21 September 2014

Guest Blog - Is an in house option really on the table for Your Choice Barnet by John Sullivan

By John Sullivan,
 Your Choice Barnet, for those of you who don't know, is the organisation which provides care for adults with social care needs in the London Borough of Barnet. It is a Private company, which was created by the London Borough of Barnet. The London Borough of Barnet owns all the shares. You may wonder why a local Authority would go to such lengths. Could it be so that they could implement swinging cuts in local care with no political fallout? How would you go about doing this? Maybe set up a company with a completely flawed business plan, that is doomed from day one. Then there is  a "cast iron financial case" for deeply unpopular cuts with no blame at all for the puppet masters. But who would agree to set up a company under such false pretences?

The truth is that Your Choice Barnet was born of a lie in as much nobody was afforded any choice.  Our Tory masters and their lacky officers decided to call it Your Choice, in an Orwellian, minstry of truth style attempt to pretend that this was something that was "opted in to".  By the time any concept of truth regarding the policy that was finally named Your Choice became a reality, it had been replaced with obfuscation, misinformation and downright lies. Truth, transparency, integrity, concern for clients and staff had taken a back seat, and was replaced by the false promises of huge profits hewn out of the care from the most disadvantaged in our midsts. Local Conservative councillors were blinded by promises of massive profits at the expense of severely disabled  YCB clients. An attitude that any decent person would consider immoral and repugnant took precedent. It seems that despite the Tories being the party of business, none of them bothered to study the business plan.

So as YCB has been a lie from the start,  with massive losses presented as "planned losses" (who sets up a company to make losses), there is no need to list the dishonest rhetoric of YCB directors or local councillors on the subject of YCB, because there has been no truth from day one. Therefore anything you hear from them on this subject you can reasonably assume is  obfuscation, cover up or plain old fashioned porkies.

Now we are told that the Council is "looking at" and "In House option". It is one thing to promise an in house option will be considered, but how well funded will the preparation of an in house model be?  Will it be allowed sufficient time to do a thorough job , after all we are talking about the quality of people's lives? Who will prepare the bid and what will their brief be? Will all parties clients, parents, family carers, front line staff and others at the front line for the very first time be consulted. Or will they all as has been the case to date be ignored by both local Conservative and Labour councillors. In short will thed people who receive the care actually be given a choice?

 Any reasonable person could see from the outset that the original YCB business plan was never going to work - you remember the plan that needed a £1 million bale out within a year, any more than the second business plan is working. YCB are currently in hock to Barnet taxpayers for a figure in excess of £1  Million  (the so called planned debt).

However the business plan was never intended to work, the intention from the outset was to drive YCB into debt , which could be used to justify an attack on the  highly skilled staff to force them out and replace them with cheap labour. Those members of staff not forced out initially with the use of every despicable tactic at the disposal of YCB board and their Tory puppet masters, were always going to be subjected to massive life changing wage cuts to prime the business known as YCB , by minimising the quality of service provision and quality of life for YCB clients and staff and sell off to the highest bidder probably Capita.  This is all necessary in order to wipe their hands of the responsibility for YCB clients, which has always been the aim of our local Conservative masters.

Are our local conservative councillors serious about giving an in house option for YCB a fair hearing and the funding and time to prepare a bid? The suspicion is that they are yet again playing games with the lives of YCB clients and their family carers.

I would suggest the latter is the intention simply because and I repeat Your Choice Barnet has been a lie since day one and it continues to be a lie, and one thing is for sure local Conservative councillors will fight tooth and nail to avoid the service being brought back in house. No matter how deceitful underhand and dishonest they have to be, which will only be to replicate the deceitful, underhand and dishonest activities they engaged in to set the lie that is Your Choice Barnet up to fail in the first place.

Whilst I hope to be proven wrong , I seriously have my doubts the right wing detester of the disabled sick and poor,  namely our 'smiling' Conservative leader Cornelius will pull out all of the stops to deny YCB clients any choice at all. Do the sick, the diabled and the infirm not deserve a quality of life and a safeguarded long term future of quality service provision . To stop this service being brought back in house, which is the only way the long term future of service provision can be guaranteed is to deny more than choice. It is to deny the basic needs of a human being to have a life without fear.

There is one final thing which must be said about the whole YCB debacle. It is time for the local Labour Party to stop being the Tories merkin. At every turn they have lost their cojones and voted to go along with the Tory cuts and outsourcing, giving the Tories a legitimacy they do not deserve. Let me put this in simple terms. If the local Labour Party do not stand at the forefront of the fight to bring Services in house, then I will ensure that every reader of the Barnet Eye and every carer in Barnet knows and come the election in 2015 they exercise their vote in the knowledge of what Labour have done, not what they have promised. Because if the local Labour party can't oppose the Tories, then what possible reason is there to deserve our votes?
John Sullivan is a Barnet resident and carer for his daughter Susan aged 50

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