Monday 9 December 2013

Your Choice Barnet Week - Day 1 - The LIE That Is Your Choice Barnet - Guest blog by John Sullivan

By John Sullivan,

The lie that is Your Choice Barnet is simply a continuation of the lie that is the Conservative council that purports to consult with and then represent the views fears and feelings of Barnet residents which is yet another lie. YCB is a Teckal company controlled completely and absolutely by LBB Tory Councillors, every strategic decision made is made by them and simply implemented by the puppet board members of YCB.

The title " Your Choice " gives you the impression clients and family carers were afforded a choice, which is a complete Lie, no alternative to the formation of the LATC was afforded us. What was effectively the sales brochure that sold the formation of an LATC to us was riddled with Lies, it was called " More Choice " yet the services now offer less choice, it claimed the services would remain  the same and only the logo would change, yet another Lie. It highlighted the fact that the formation of an LATC was inevitable  due to direct payment legislation, which is still to a point a grey area, and in the manner it was presented it was at the very least an implied lie. Parents and family carers along with clients have never been meaningfully consulted yet both YCB & Lbb claim they have, yet another Lie. Compounded by the actions of the recent whitewash Task and Finish committee of Barnet Council enquiry, that once again refused to consult with family carers parents or coal face staff, making an informed outcome to such a  complex enquiry an impossibility, hence it can be described as yet another lie. Councillor Rayner who cops big bucks for chairing the scrutiny committee, that apparently fails to scrutinise enormous issues such as the One Barnet contract, and the recent handling of £16.1 million of our money, promised this enquiry would be transparent and honest then colluded to do the precise opposite, yet another big fat Lie.

(This video clip contains John Sullivans letter to Barnet Council being read out at the Task and Finish meeting)

Then we have the implied LIE of Councillor Brian Salinger who claims," I have no problem with making a profit ", which implies YCB are making a profit which is yet another implied LIE. When adult services were in house they worked within the confines of their budget, since the LATC YCB was formed they have incurred massive losses. So much so they have had to borrow £1 million pounds from us the Barnet taxpayers via Barnet Homes  to get out of trouble. Worse than peddling this implied lie, Brian Salinger appears to imply his support for the destruction of the quality of services for disabled people in Barnet. The simple reality being the only way you can make a profit from these disabled folk, is to undermine and put at risk the long term quality of their lives and support services .

Parents and family carers and anybody who truly cares about and understands the nature of caring for adults with a learning and / or physical difficulty, knows the importance of the building of long term relationships between the client and the support worker. A bond that is built up over time and allows the support worker to understand the moods and likes and dislikes of those in their care, that allows them to protect their clients from harm or perhaps self harm. Such as choking to death on food because the client happens to gobble food, or spot the signs when the client needs to toilet to avoid the embarrassment, small but important things that any parent knows about. This long term bond is now broken by the prophets of greed at any price, this important aspect of care is to them unimportant, the end result being the devaluation of the long term quality of life of these innocent folk in order to make a profit, and if that is not bad enough.

Just to add to the destruction of the long term quality of life of disabled folk they have demoralised the staff, cut some staff wages by upwards of 30% demoted long term staff and cut their wages by 23%, and are about to cut the wages of staff even further within the next few weeks, when they introduce the benchmarking exercise they have been engaged in for several months. Which will drive out even  more long term skilled staff, only to be replaced by zero hours unskilled cheap labour , the turnover of which is huge therefore ensuring  that vital long term relationships between support worker and client will remain a thing of the past. The destruction of the morale of staff in any field leads to a reduction in the quality of services provided, as we all know it is a plain fact of life. Therefore these actions by demoralising staff have had and continue to have  a detrimental impact on long term support service quality, and therefore the long term quality of life for these innocent folk. All denied by the highly paid LBB/YCB management team that rules the roost over these services in Barnet some of whom on their £120k plus salaries, and driven by the expenses hungry pocket lining councillors, in their drive for cuts for everybody else but themselves.  Yet another lie.
Not happy with that, these profit at any price  people have taken away transport for many of these innocent folk, which used to convey them to day centres where they could congregate with their friends. It was their community hub, a place where they were among equals and could be happy, a place where they  felt they belonged and felt valued. Now many of them are dumped at home day after day with no community hub, no friends to talk to, no company other than the television. All this sneaky activity has been aimed at one intention, to close down any remaining day centre provision in particular the Bils facility at Flightways Grahame Park, under the dishonest claim that attendance has fallen making the facility no longer viable. They are creating the circumstances that have led to the demise of attendance to Bils, now they are using that lack of attendance to justify the closure and avoid replacing a vital facility for many subsequent to demolition.

Couple these issues together , none of which is in any way shape or form for the benefit and improvement in the long term quality of life of disabled people in Barnet, but a determination to make a profit no matter the human cost. Then ask yourself what kind of a person is Brian Salinger who has " no problem with making a profit " from these activities, which includes  the other scoundrels that support these acts of evil. Who collectively  supported the cover up of those same acts of evil in the recent T&F whitewash of YCB services on 27th November , at the farcically named "Safeguarding Committee " meeting.

What kind of people are they, that put profit before the long term  quality of life of the disabled people of Barnet, as important what kind of self centred uncaring people vote " these people" into power without a second thought in most cases out of habit. Barnet is fast becoming a cesspit driven by the mantra. " Feck you Jack I'm alright ".

Your Choice Barnet is a LIE it was conceived on a LIE that was ignored, the long term quality of life and provision of support services for these folk is premised on a business model that is a LIE, and it is the long term future that is the most important issue for parents and family carers. The  business model this LATC was launched on was a car crash, proclaimed by councillor Rajput and his puppets at YCB as a success, probably one of the biggest Lies to date. He implies the business model that YCB was launched on, deliberately  planned to lose vast sums of money, and further implies it was always the intention to have to borrow £1million from us the taxpayers after the first failed year of trading, you have to ask yourself when will the lies and implied lies end.

The only way these disabled folk can be guaranteed a long term future is by bringing all YCB services back in house, which was the promise made when this failed privatisation went ahead yet another LIE. The current business model could only be guaranteed when launched earlier this year for a period of six months, Troy Henshall a board member of YCB was asked how long can you guarantee no change, and he replied no longer than six months, he was further asked what happens if this business model fails, and he replied it will not, he was then  pressed but what happens if it does fail, and he stated quite clearly " the services would have to be taken back in house ".

Parents and family carers were sent invitations to " informative meetings " and in the majority of cases were advised in the invitation there would be " no change to the services ", so many never bothered to attend. YCB & LBB councillors believe it is right and proper to mislead these folk in this underhand way, how can you possibly claim no change for six months is the same as no change, this is probably the sickest most pernicious lie of all.

Rather than subjecting these disabled  folk to the vagaries of the marketplace based on a business model that is doomed to fail and is failing, a business model that cannot be sustained without destroying the quality of life for disabled people. I repeat once again all YCB services should be brought back in house now, in a planned and calm way, and not await the failure of the second business plan and all the problems that will bring. It will also deny the back door aims of LBB councillors to hand responsibility for adult services to their friends at Capita, which I firmly believe is their intention, to despicably wipe their hands of all responsibility for disabled people as they have for the elderly.

It is one thing to contact a call centre in the north of England where hundreds of local jobs have now been farmed out to if you have a problem with your council tax or a planning query etc, but not when you are dealing with vulnerable family members who might be at risk of harm. A classic and horror story example of how this system does not work and the horror it creates, was demonstrated at Winterbourne View not so long ago and more recently at a residential facility in Devon.

But our councillors claim that "in house" is not possible because we would lose too much money due to the direct payments legislation, that does not allow service users to pay for services directly to local authorities. If that were true I assume every local authority across the United Kingdom would have to have created an LATC as is the case in Barnet. The fact is every local authority across the United Kingdom has " NOT " created an LATC , which suggest this claim is yet another LIE, for people who are more concerned with profit than with the long term quality of life of vulnerable people.

I have no doubt our local councillors will challenge every word uttered by those opposing the failed privatisation of adult services, the lie that is YCB, that they are choosing to prop up with lies obfuscation and misinformation , folllowed by this  whitewash of a Task & Finish group enquiry, and will do their utmost to justify this pernicious inhumanity. But the reality is the services were far better run prior to the formation of the LATC , inspections recorded a high standard of care, and expenditure was kept within the budget provided,  an in-house option comparator that was denied us,  could have made it even more  financially sustainable, and those are facts they cannot Lie there way out of.
John Sullivan is a parent carer for his daughter Susan and a campaigner for disabled rights in Barnet. Guest blogs are always welcome at the Barnet Eye

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