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)

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

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!


6 Responses to Who is Professor Dexter Whitfield?

  1. Mrs Angry, Broken Barnet blog says:

    Oh dear, Robert. Does it not occur to you that it is a good thing to read widely on any given subject, and to make the effort to include material that opposes, as well as that which supports, your own position on a subject? This is the reason I try to read books, newspapers, blogs etc of all political persuasions, in order to reach a better perspective: I recommend this approach to you and all your Tory colleagues, and then perhaps you might feel inclined to moderate some of your group’s more extreme ideological policies. If you had read Prof Whitfield’s writings before committing yourselves to the One Barnet nonsense, Barnet might not be facing the same inevitable conclusion reached by your fellow Tories on Suffolk County Council, ie that massive outsourcing is dangerous, unworkable and benefits only the private companies receiving contracts.

  2. John Dix says:

    Dexter Whitfield isn’t the only one critical of the One Barnet Outsourcing programme. An independent review of the DRS business case by Adrian Waite, a former Local Authority Finance Director (Section 151 Officer), stated:

    “During the thirty years that I have worked in local government finance as a local government officer and management consultant, including some time as Finance Director of a Borough Council, I have seen and written many business cases, business plans and options appraisals. This business case is remarkable for the apparent lack of robust evidence to support its main conclusions that £28 million of savings and increased income is achievable and that this can only be delivered through outsourcing”.

    Southwest One is an example where outsourcing has gone horribly wrong. Ken Maddock, Conservative Leader of Somerset County council recently stated in an interview with the BBC that if they could tear up the contract today they would save £58 million.

    Outsourcing is not the panacea it is made out to be. Without robust evidence that savings will be achieved it just seems a reckless approach.

  3. Julia Hines says:

    Robert, with respect, exactly what savings have been achieved? I would be fascinated to know. I thought that so far there has only been huge cost and some small savings which would have been achieved in any event. Having looked at some of his reports, my understanding is not that he has ignored savings as you say, but that they do not exist and there is no empirical evidence they will ever exist in the future.

  4. robertrams says:

    My understanding is that former Chief Executive Leo Boland and former Leader Mike Freer agreed to give the unions a sum of money so they could hire consultants and fully participate in the dialogue around the ‘Future Shape’ of the council.

    The unions decided to use this money to bring Professor Whitfield onboard. They chose their own independent expert; the council did not suggest Professor Whitfield or anyone else. So indirectly the council paid for his initial reports, since then, the reports have been paid for by the unions.

    I have no problem with an independent assessment of the programme, I just wonder whether these reports are truly objective.

    It is important to remember that One Barnet isn’t just about outsourcing, it is a council transformation programme. It is about reassessing how services are provided and creating a citizen-centred council. This kind of transformation programme will inevitably be front loaded with costs but that doesn’t mean it won’t deliver savings.

    It is vital that the team managing these projects and contracts has the right capabilities and experience to ensure we avoid the pitfalls experienced by some other councils.

    As mentioned previously, the council needs to operate with a far smaller budget. The One Barnet programme is our solution, a solution that doesn’t reply on the widespread redundancies and cuts to frontline services that are proposed by other councils.

    I understand that the outsourcing projects are not popular with everyone, but how popular would the alternative be?

  5. mr mustard says:

    In a citizen centred Council surely you would ask the citizens if they want the One Barnet programme ? Looks like it is time for another referendum. Expect a big No vote.

  6. robertrams says:

    I would’ve thought the high cost of a referendum would be something you’d want to avoid.

    I believe that Barnet citizens are more interested in the quality of the services they receive and less concerned about who delivers them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: