Adults In-House Services business case approved

The business case for the Adults In-House Services project was approved by Cabinet Resources Committee on Tuesday evening (24 May). This decision gives the council permission to set up a local authority trading company to run adult social services in Barnet.

We need to set up this company because the way eligible residents receive money to pay for adult social services has changed. An increasing number of people who access these services receive the money to pay for them as direct payments.

Direct payments are good for service users and their carers, they allow them to manage their own social care budgets and let them choose which services they want to purchase. Central government wants everyone eligible for social care to receive direct payments by 2013.

But if you receive the money to pay for adult social services as a direct payment you cannot buy these services directly from the council. By setting up a local authority trading company to run adults social care we will allow people to continue to use our services and access our centres.

The new organisation will be wholly owned by Barnet Council but will manage its own operations and have its own board of directors, which will include service users and carers. Back office costs will be shared with Barnet Homes.

You can read the business case on the Barnet Council website.

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Have your say on the future of Barnet’s libraries

There is still time to have your say on the future of Barnet’s libraries. A detailed consultation took place at the end of last year and the comments we received helped to shape the development of our new library strategy.

A second consultation is now underway and we want to know what you think about the proposals we’ve made for the future of the library service. We think we’ve got the strategy about right but we want feedback from Barnet citizens, both regular library users and those who rarely borrow a book.

The library strategy is a good example of ‘One Barnet’ principles in action. Although the library service faces significant budget cuts, the strategy explains how we plan to do more with less and build a stronger relationship with library customers.

The consultation closes on 13 June, so there’s still plenty of time to have your opinion heard.

Councillor Lynne Hillan

I wish to add my words of support to Cllr Hillan as she continues her battle against cancer. As someone who has lost too many of my close family to the evils of cancer I understand what she and Ben are going through.

Cllr Hillan has always been a mentor to me, she brought me under her wing as soon as I was elected to the council, making me her deputy whip and has helped me to develop as a councillor. She has been an excellent leader and has always been a strong voice for Barnet. My thoughts and prayers are with her and Ben.

Who is Professor Dexter Whitfield?

The unions have been very critical of the whole ‘One Barnet’ process.

I have no issue with this and would expect them to be – I have never met a union that has liked change! But they have put all their eggs in one basket with their belief that whatever Professor Dexter Whitfield writes is gospel.

The unions have commissioned him to write several reports about what we’ve been doing, so I thought I’d do some digging to find out who this professor really is.

A quick search on Amazon highlights some of the books he has written.

New Labour’s Attack on Public Services (Socialist Renewal: Fifth Series)
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Labours-Attack-Services-Socialist-Renewal/dp/0851247156/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1304539771&sr=8-3

The book’s synopsis says:

New Labour is creating markets in public services on an unprecedented scale …. It has gone well beyond even Tory expectations of the 1990s. Privatisation inevitably follows marketisation, eroding democratic accountability and embedding business interests. The impact will be far reaching.

So, we know he is Anti Tory, he does not like Blair and is against any form of privatisation. So can we say he writes all his pieces for the Barnet unions from an unbiased position?

You are told here: http://us.macmillan.com/author/dexterwhitfield

Dexter Whitfield founded the Centre for Public Services which has worked for nearly 30 years with public bodies, trade unions and community organisations developing strategies to improve public services and the welfare state. He has advised public bodies and trade unions in countries around the world, including Australia, New Zealand and the US. He is the author of The Welfare State (Pluto Press).

And he is now the Director of the European Services Strategy Unit
http://www.european-services-strategy.org.uk/contact/

It is from here he has been paid by the Barnet unions to write these reports.

But it is interesting that whatever he writes, he always comes to the same conclusion, that outsourcing is a bad idea, ignoring the savings that have been achieved. But would we expect him to write anything else?

So in conclusion, he appears to be an anti-outsourcing activist, so it is hard to understand how his reports can be described as an independent critique of our One Barnet process.

I would suggest to the Unions that they save their members’ hard earned money and spend it somewhere else!

Are we heading to a two party Barnet?

If I was Cllr Lord and Lady Palmer and Cllr Jack Cohen – our last remaining Liberal Democrat Councillors – I would be worried after last nights election results.

Up and down the country Liberal Democrat Councillors lost their seats – not because of what they had done in their wards but because in their supporter’s views – they had gone back on their manifesto promises when coming into Government with us.

I believe Clegg was brave to come into coalition – and those decisions he has made have been correct – but it is obvious his supporters do not agree with him.

Therefore it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Barnet will have no Liberal Democrats after our next local election.

A few thoughts on last night

Out in East Barnet whilst knocking up I did not come across one person who said they were voting yes to AV.

A great result for my old boss Nigel Evans MP in the RibbleValley. The Ribble Valley Council now has no Labour councillors and the Liberal Democrats were halved.

Nigel used to be the Shadow Secretary of State for Wales and in my time working with him I had a lot of dealings with the Welsh Assembly. I am sorry to see, that whilst picking up a number of seats, the leader of the Conservative Group, Nick Bourne, has lost his.

And the AV vote – my prediction 70 per cent voted No 30 per cent yes.

Another nail in Nick Cleggs coffin?

Big Lunch Letter

Following on from my post about the sucess of our Pledge Bank and the Royal Wedding Street Parties, in the Barnet Times today Cllr Kate Salinger writes a great letter about the Big Lunch.

As Cllr Salinger says, email barnet.pledgebank@barnet.gov.uk for an organiser’s information pack or call the council on 020 8359 7293.

Vote No Today

I have just finished doing my session of telling outside Trent School. I had a total of 12 people walk past me in the first hour! It was very slow out there and I hear similar things from friends around London.

But it is important to go and vote today and here are some key reasons why you should vote NO to AV:

  • AV is not a fair system – The candidate coming third on first preferences could end up winning. Supporters of fringe parties can end up getting five or six votes while people who backed the mainstream candidates only get one.
  • AV is complicated and expensive – Calculating the results would be a long and complicated process, requiring special counting machines. With ordinary families facing tough times, we can’t afford to spend a quarter of a billion pounds of taxpayers’ money bringing in a new voting system.
  • AV is an obscure and unpopular system – Only three countries in the world use AV for their elections – Fiji, Australia, and Papua New Guinea. In Fiji, they’re about to get rid of it. In Australia, voting is compulsory and 6 out of 10 voters want to return to the British system.
  • Even the people campaigning for AV have admitted it’s a bad system – Nick Clegg called it “a miserable little compromise”. An independent commission run by the senior Liberal Democrat, Roy Jenkins, concluded that AV was ‘even less proportional’ than our existing system and would not make politicians more accountable.