The SWAN website has previously featured articles on the campaigns against the 'One Barnet' programme being implemented in the Conservative controlled north London Borough, an authority which has become another malign neoliberal laboratory for local government. While SWAN has supported the work of Barnet Alliance for Public Services and the Campaign Against Destruction of Disabled Support Services (CADDSS), we have not highlighted the debacle of the Your Choice Barnet Local Authority Trading Company. This was set up in February 2012 to spin off the previously in-house learning disability services in the borough, and shortly found itself £2m in debt.
CADDSS was so concerned about the future of services provided by Your Choice Barnet that it asked Prof Dexter Whitfield, the Director of European Services Strategy, to review the situation. Your Choice Barnet is experiencing considerable financial difficulties and is very unwilling to engage with service users and families who are worried about the future of the services they use.
In his report “The Way Out Of Financial Crisis” Dexter Whitfield States, “The core objective of this report is to set out the case for full and continuing engagement with service users, carers and community organisations, together with staff and trade unions and to show how YCB’s current approach is flawed, fails to provide value for money for the taxpayer and therefore unacceptable.” Please download and share Professor Whitfield's analysis and recommendations below - this is a campaigning tool against similar plans in your local authority.
At present Your Choice Barnet has not engaged in meaningful consultations with service users and their families. Service users and their families have no direct representation on the Board of Your Choice Barnet. Your Choice Barnet is very selective about what it chooses to disclose.
Dexter Whitfield urges Your Choice Barnet not to implement its proposed changes to management and staffing. Service users and their families are concerned that these changes would cause a considerable deterioration in the quality of services provided.
Despite considerable financial difficulties Your Choice Barnet has agreed to new contracts with consultants. Dexter Whitfield feels they will give little information that Your Choice Barnet does not already know. He recommends these contracts should be terminated.
Dexter Whitfield recommends that Barnet Council should return YCB services in-house, extend the block contract to ease YCB cash flow problems, and prepare a three-year service development plan with service users, carers, staff and trade unions.
A member of CADDSS voiced the concerns of many, “Carers are extremely worried about the future care of their loved ones. What will happen when we are no longer around to look out for them?”