Thursday, 20 February 2014

Support Services Contract - A Not So Short History

With the recent news that as part of North Somerset Council's Transformation Programme, they are looking to transfer more jobs and services into the £100 million, 10 year contract we've been looking back to our campaign to stop the privatisation of Support Services back in 2009 and 2010. So we thought as we didn't have the blog back then that it might make interesting reading for members now.

In April 2009, when the council were first looking to go down the outsourcing route we submitted a number of reports to the Executive, spoke at the meetings, and also commissioned a report from APSE. Our submission to the April Executive meeting slowed the process down, and forced them to bring another report to Executive in June. Here are our reports:

UNISON submission to Finance and Performance Policy and Scrutiny Panel, 20th April 2009

UNISON Report to Executive, 21st April 2009

UNISON Report to Executive, 9th June 2009

APSE Report on Support Services Outsourcing, June 2009

All the initial Council Reports are here:

Executive Report 28th October 2008:

Executive Report, 21st April 2009:

Executive Report, 9th June 2009:

Audit Committee, 20th April 2009 minutes:

We sent out a leaflet to all members and also covered the town hall in posters, and even had some support services privatisation mugs made. Here are the leaflet and posters:

Leaflet for Members - Quicker, Better, Cheaper

Poster - Quicker, Better, Cheaper In House

Poster - Slower, Worse, Dearer Privatised

We were also successful at getting the Executive decision called in to the Finance and Performance Policy and Scrutiny Panel on 2nd July 2009, and a UNISON Rep spoke at the panel - this slightly slowed down the process. The minutes are here:

During the procurement process UNISON were given the opportunity to make comments on all the bids - we cannot publish them here for reasons of commercial confidentiality.

As we ramped up our campaign in the final stages our access to information was shut down.

We wrote to councillors on a number of occasions and also provided them with the following documents:

Think Twice - The Role of Elected Members in Commissioning

Chapter 10 of Hilary Wainwright & Matthew Little - Public Service Reform But Not As We Know It

Insourcing: A Guide to bringing Local Authority Service back in house

We ran regular members meetings, as well as keeping members updated by letter.

We also issued regular press releases and got quite a bit of media coverage.

Audit Committee Report, 25th May 2010, which considered the Audit Commission's report on Support Services Contract:

We spoke at the Audit Committee on 27th July 2010, and submitted the following report:

UNISON submission on Support Services Contract for Audit Committee, 27th July 2010

The Audit Committee minutes are here:

Executive Report, 8th June 2010:

When the council met to award the contract on 5th August 2010 we spoke at the meeting and submitted the following report:

UNISON submission on Support Services Contract Award for Council Meeting on 5th August 2010

Council Report, 5th August 2010:

Letter to North Somerset councillors

We were successful in persuading opposition councillors to propose an amendment to slow the process down pending more scrutiny, but due to the massive Tory majority the contract was approved.

Minutes of the Council Meeting:

Since the contract was awarded and staff transferred to Agilisys we have not stopped our campaign.

One year into the contract we surveyed our members - those who had transferred and those that remained at the council - the results were published on this blog:

We pushed the council to undertake a review of the contract one year in - this is good practice. The council employed KPMG to do the review, but then kept their report secret. We pursued this report through Freedom of Information, finally getting the full detailed report in January 2014 - this has been published on this blog:

Now that the council are looking to transfer further services we have written to all councillors and our Chief Executive to express our concerns.

UNISON members will soon be receiving a special edition of our regular newsletter outlining what is likely to happen, why we still oppose the privatisation of support services and how they can get involved in our campaign. Watch this space for more details.

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