Napo is a long standing affiliate to the General Federation of Trade Unions (The GFTU) and General Secretary, Ian Lawrence, together with National Co-Chair, Yvonne Pattison, attended the biennial conference in May to ensure that Napo’s concerns were raised there.
Napo had two resolutions to conference, both – not surprisingly – on the issue of privatisation. The first dealt with outsourcing of Probation services under TR and Ian Lawrence brought conferences attention to the government’s ill thought out plans to ‘reform’ probation and the serious impact of these on Napo members and on service delivery which, he told delegates, in Napo’s view places a direct risk to the public as it undermines public protection and risk management.
The resolution, calling on the GFTU to support all public sector workers who are being asked to do more for less, and to support Napo’s campaign to hold all probation providers accountable to deliver quality services, a duty of care to employees and provide ongoing support for our members in relation to health and safety, good practice and good industrial relations, was passed unanimously and is now part of GFTU policy.
Keep Children’s Services public
The second motion, moved by Yvonne Pattison, opposed the privatisation of Children’s Services. Yvonne told delegates that the government had planned the marketisation and privatisation of children’s social services, including child protection investigations and assessments, since early 2014; but after huge public opposition to initial proposals, it moderated regulations to limit transfers to not-for-profit mutual or charities.
However, this U-turn is a sham. Similar rhetoric was constant throughout the part-privatisation of probation, with the Cabinet Office spending around £2.5 M promoting not-for-profit and mutual bids. The outcome saw the 3rd Sector excluded apart from a few minor partners in for profit multi-national consortia – Interserve and Sodexo winning over half of all probation contracts between them. The DfE are actively encouraging big corporates to set-up ‘charitable not-for-profit fronts’, who they control, direct and ‘sell’ their support services to, justifying their corporate investment.
Morally some things should just never be sold for a profit, she concluded, and support and help to our most vulnerable young people should never be for sale.
‘Napo is already witnessing the chaos, confusion and increased risks arising from Government efforts to privatise a huge part of the Probation Service despite the work/staff being awarded the gold standard for service provision. The Government repeated the same argument about private companies providing children’s services to “encourage innovation and improve outcomes for children”. Whilst pre-election considerations and immediate campaigning by Napo and others in the sector contributed to these plans being put on hold for now, the GFTU and affiliates must be vigilant and ready if they re-emerge post an election.’
The conference passed the motion demanding that all plans for the marketisation and privatisation of children’s services are stopped, that resources continue to be directed at providing good public services for children and families on a not for profit basis and calling on all unions with an interest in children’s services to work together to campaign in the public and parliament against this threat to ensure