3rd January 2018
National Audit Office (NAO) Report on CRC Bail Out
In August last year, UNISON, Napo and GMB/SCOOP wrote to the National Audit Office to draw attention to the lack of transparency in the MOJ’s multi-million pound bail out of the CRC contracts which had taken place at the end of July 2017.
As a result of the joint union letter, the NAO undertook a detailed investigation into the bail out. The NAO report of the findings of the investigation can be found here: https://www.nao.org.uk/report/investigation-into-changes-to-community-rehabilitation-company-contracts/
The report is detailed, but in summary reveals that:
- CRCs are paid for the volume of rehabilitation activity which they provide, not the number of clients supervised
- The MOJ claimed originally that it would transfer the commercial risk of future volumes of rehabilitation activity going down, as well as up, to the CRCs
- The MOJ obtained parent company guarantees that financial protection would be provided for the taxpayer should the CRCs seriously underperform
- The volume of rehabilitation activity actually went down, but the commercial risk attached to this was not transferred as promised to the CRCs, but was handed back to the taxpayer
- The MOJ ended up paying the CRCs more in 2016/17 than was contractually required in order to keep them afloat
- The CRCs under-estimated their fixed costs when bidding for the contracts, but the MOJ agreed that the taxpayer, not the private companies, should shoulder these costs as well
- So far this has all cost the taxpayer an additional £342 million
- By the end of June 2017, CRCs had, on average, met just 8 of the 24 targets set for them under their contracts. The worst performing CRC, met only 4 of its 24 targets.
- Although it is entitled to fine the CRCs for poor performance, the MOJ has either waived, or allowed CRCs to ‘re-invest, 71% of the total of the fines which were due to the taxpayer
- One of the options which the MOJ considered in respect of the poor performance of the CRCs was to terminate some, or all, of the CRC contracts, but decided instead to let the taxpayer take the strain of the failing contracts by amending the contract payment mechanisms to give the CRCs more money.
UNISON, Napo and GMB/SCOOP call upon the government to take the failing CRC contracts back into public ownership to protect the UK taxpayer from further expense in propping up unsustainable private companies.
The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee is due to hold a session on the NAO Report on 17 January.
Ian Lawrence Ben Priestley George Georgiou
General Secretary National Officer National Officer
Napo UNISON GMB/SCOOP
Lord Michael Bichard KCB, Chairman
National Audit Office
157-197 Buckingham Palace Road
London SW1W 9SP
9 August 2017
Dear Lord Bichard,
Transforming Rehabilitation: announcement of additional tax-payer spending
We are writing as the three recognised trade unions in the National Probation Service (NPS) and the 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs). We wish to draw your Committee’s attention to our concerns about the recent announcement by the Secretary of State for Justice of new spending on the MOJ’s Community Rehabilitation Company contracts.
When you published your report into the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation Reforms in April 2016 you concluded by saying:
‘While NOMS’ oversight of CRCs is robust, significantly lower levels of business than the Ministry projected will affect some CRCs’ ability to deliver the level of innovation they proposed in their bids. Furthermore, the NPS is not yet operating as a truly national, sustainable service. Achieving value for money from the new probation system will require resolving these fundamental issues, and ensuring the right incentives for all participants in the system.’
You also indicated in the report that:
‘The Ministry put prudent protections in place to help mitigate the risks to the taxpayer and to critical services where providers seriously underperform or fail outright.’
Whatever promises the MOJ made to your Committee last year in relation to its ‘prudent protections’, on the last day of Parliament on 19 July, the Justice Secretary issued a low key statement to staff in the NPS and the CRCs to the effect that the government had bailed out the failing CRC contracts with an unspecified amount.
In his written ministerial statement of the same date, Sam Gyimah, the Prisons and Probation Minister, referred confusingly to ‘…additional investment…’ in the contracts, but cryptically placed a caveat over the issue by stating that this additional money will see ‘…projected payments to CRCs still being no higher than originally budgeted for at the time of the reforms…’ Given the implications for the public purse of these apparently contradictory statements and the seeming lack of scrutiny that has occurred we consider the matter should be investigated by your committee the NAO in order to ensure taxpayers’ money has been well used and parliament has not been circumvented.
We are not alone in our criticism of the timing of these two announcements, nor are we alone in extolling the view that the government is so ideologically committed to probation privatisation that it will do all it can to hide that it has failed at the expense of the taxpayer.
We are also concerned as to why the Secretary of State has not yet answered why he had not published the outcome of his department’s Probation System Review which was initiated, at least in part, to ‘…address the observations and recommendations within the National Audit Office report on TR.’
We have written to the Secretary of State to ask him why the Probation System Review findings were not made public and to ask him to explain exactly what he meant when he told staff that he had ‘…adjusted the CRCs’ contracts to reflect more accurately the cost of providing critical front line services..’ We did so as we are very keen, and we consider you ought to be, to find out whether additional tax-payers money has been given to the CRCs over and above what they are entitled to under their contracts. There seems to be no transparency on this which is obviously totally unacceptable.
We enclose a copy of our letter to the Justice Secretary and would be grateful if you could bring this correspondence to the attention of your Committee with a view to the Committee calling in the MOJ to account for the justification for the apparent additional spend on the failing private probation contracts.
Ian Lawrence Ben Priestley George Georgiou
General Secretary National Officer National Officer
Napo UNISON GMB/SCOOP
CC Oliver Lodge, Director Justice VFM
This is worrying. The Prime Minister has repeatedly promised that working people won’t lose important rights when we leave the EU, but we’ve always known there are many in her party who see Brexit as an opportunity to cut regulations as far as they can.
Now we’re seeing the proof of it. The Sunday Times and Sun have today reported plans by ministers – including Michael Gove and Boris Johnson – to scrap the Working Time Directive.
This is the piece of EU legislation that underpins lots of our rights to hours, breaks and holidays. It’s long been a target of the hard right, who want to give bosses even more power over workers.
When the directive came in, millions got paid holiday rights for the first time. Losing it would risk holidays for 7 million workers (4.7 million of them women, and many on zero-hours or part-time contracts).
Even more could be forced by bosses to work more than 48 hours a week. Others could lose guaranteed lunch and rest breaks, or night working protections.
This is a straight-up attack on our rights at work, and the PM needs to face down this plot in her own cabinet. No-one voted for Brexit to lose out on holidays, or to hand power over to bad bosses.
We’re calling her out on this. If she won’t stick to her promises now, it’ll open the floodgates for the hard-brexiteers to cut back even more of our rights at work.
Can you help us add to the pressure on the PM?
Thanks for all your help,
John and the Going To Work team
Source: The Times (registration needed) https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/boris-johnson-brexit-mustnt-leave-us-a-vassal-state-p9zrf9n6s
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We are delighted to forward details of the 2017-2018 Winter Fuel Grant Programme. Anything you can do that will ensure members on the lowest of income receive all the information that they need to apply would be very much appreciated.
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The Manchester Martyrs were three innocent Irishmen hanged in public outside the New Bailey prison in Salford on 23 November 1867. They had been convicted of murdering a police sergeant, killed in the course of a successful raid on Hyde Road, Manchester to free two leading Fenians.
|Cuba Update Special 8 November 2017
Thanks to the persistent campaigning of CSC members, affiliates and supporters the Open University has reversed its discriminatory policy of barring Cuban students from studying at the institution.
This campaign victory comes as a direct result of the actions taken by thousands of CSC supporters writing to the OU and to their MPs; the public statements and letters sent by trade unions with links to the OU, (the NUT, UCU, Unite and Unison); and the MPs who raised the issue with government ministers and in parliament. Without the constant pressure to expose OU policy, the bar would have continued without challenge.
While we welcome the statement issued by the OU on Wednesday 8 November announcing that they would now accept Cuban students, we believe that the bar should never have been enforced in the first place.
When faced with the choice of breaking the UK’s Equality Act, or risk of legal action from the United States Treasury Department, the OU chose to opt for a discriminatory policy against Cuban students. By default, they helped to implement US blockade policy in the UK.
It took a vigorous campaign from CSC, which drew national press coverage and saw questions raised in the Houses of Parliament, to shame the OU to take action to reverse their prejudiced policy.
But it should have been the British government, not the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, who challenged the Open University’s blatant disregard for British laws.
By barring a student’s application based on their Cuban nationality, the OU broke anti-discrimination legislation laid down by the 2010 Equality Act. By complying with the extraterritorial aspects of the US blockade, it contravened legislation which prohibits British companies and organisations ignoring UK laws in favour of US regulations.
Just a few days ago, on 1 November 2017, the British government voted with 190 other nations to condemn the US blockade of Cuba at the United Nations General Assembly. Yet, in reality they do nothing to back up this vote.
CSC believes that the government needs to follow through on their vote at the United Nations and decide whether this vote, and British laws, are worth the paper they are printed on. The only way to stop other companies and organisations capitulating to US Treasury threats is if the government sends a clear message that UK laws are sovereign. CSC calls on the government to make a public statement it will take swift and robust action against any future breaches of British law linked to extraterritorial US blockage legislation.
Once again, we thank all the friends and supporters for being part of this campaign victory by taking action to pressure to Open University to reverse its bar against Cuban students. It is a testament to the power of campaigning and international solidarity.
Thank you for your continued support.
Yours in solidarity
The Cuba Solidarity Campaign team
Please find a link below to an online survey asking UNISON members working for the NPS and the CRCs to provide input into UNISON’s response to the Justice Select Committee Inquiry into Transforming Rehabilitation. The call for evidence closes on 17 November and UNISON aims to put in one collective response on behalf of NPS and CRC members.
The Justice Select Committee wants to find out:
Whether the attempts by the MOJ at the end of July 2017 to improve CRC performance by giving them more money, and by making suggested changes to the probation inspection regime, are having any effect?
What impact Transforming Rehabilitation has had on sentencing, recalls, Serious Further Offences and Through the Gate?
What should be done to improve/reform Transforming Rehabilitation?
Your views as probation staff are vital to the outcome of the Committee’s Inquiry, so please do respond in any way you can. You do not need to answer every question and your comments are totally anonymous. Thank you in advance for your participation.
Responses must be made by no later than 12 midnight on 15 November.
At the United Nations General Assembly today, the world voted with Cuba in support of a resolution calling for an end to the 55 year old US blockade of the island.
The final vote, 191 to 2, saw the United States isolated, as only it and Israel voted against all 191 other member states. Although the vote is non-binding it sends a clear message to the United States government that it stands alone when it comes to its policy of blockade.
In 2016, the US historically abstained for the first time after 24 years of voting against the resolution. In her speech to the UN, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador told the organisation said that they were reversing this decision since the US people had spoken by electing a new president (Trump) who supported the blockade.
She described the debate on the blockade at the United Nations as “political theatre” and said the US delegation was voting to continue the blockade out of solidarity with the Cuban people. Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s chief negotiator in talks with the US, branded these comments as disrespectful to the United Nations and an insult to Cuba.
Nikki Haley’s comments also contradict US public opinion which is in favour of normalising relations with Cuba and ending the blockade. On Tuesday 31 October a group of democratic senators urged Trump by letter to abstain from the vote again. “Our failed embargo against Cuba has been repeatedly and publicly condemned by the international community as ineffective and harmful to the people of Cuba,” the senators wrote. “The longer we maintain this outdated Cold War policy the more our international regional credibility suffers.”
Opening his speech to the UN, Bruno Rodriguez, Cuban Foreign Secretary, condemned the “offensive and interfering” statement made by Nikki Haley.
He described the blockade as “a flagrant, systematic and massive violation of the human rights of all Cubans.” “It can be described as an act of genocide”, and “an obstacle to the humanitarian support that Cuba offers to 81 countries of the global South,” he said.
Country representatives from across the globe spoke in support of the Cuban resolution, praising the country for the international solidarity that it provided to many poor nations in the form of medical brigades and training, despite the effects of the blockade on its own economy. They also lamented the deteriorating relations between the US and Cuba following the election of Donald Trump and called on the US to return to the path of respectful relations with the island.
In response to the vote, CSC director, Rob Miller said:
“This is a cynical move by the US government. The Trump administration, in its desperation to appease right-wing politicians, is systematically destroying the last two years of progress in diplomatic relations between the two countries.
“At a time when the island needs materials and equipment to aid its recovery from Hurricane Irma, the US policy appears more vicious than ever. It is vitally important to maintain the international campaign against the US blockade so that the US government receives a clear message that the rest of the world supports the Cuban people in their call to end this cruel and archaic policy.”
Find out more:
- Only US and Israel vote against lifting blockade on Cuba at UN – TeleSur report on UN blockade debate
- Cuba’s 2017 report to the UN on the affects of the blockade
- Under siege Cuba deserves our support – CSC reports on 26 years of United Nations votes against the blockade
Find out more about Cuba’s resistance to US aggression and its achievements in the face of the longest economic blockade in history by coming to one of our forthcoming events including the Che Guevara Anniversary Tour with Che’s daughter, Aleida, and a special parliamentary meeting with Cuban MPs in November, plus the 12th annual Latin America Conference in December.
The 11th biennial TUC survey of union health and safety representatives, published today (Friday) during European Health and Safety at Work Week, finds the top-five cited hazards were stress, bullying and harassment, overwork, back strains and slips, and trips and falls on a level.
In top place was stress. Over two-thirds of safety reps (67 per cent) taking part in the survey said that stress, and the effect it is having on their colleagues, is one of the main concerns they have to deal with at work.
One in six of the workplace reps who completed the survey say their employers are failing to conduct risk assessments, which is a breach of health and safety law, says the TUC.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s shocking that so many employers are breaking the law and putting their staff at risk of illness and accidents by their sheer negligence. Not only does this put people in danger while doing their jobs, the consequences also carry a high cost for British businesses and public services because it results in lower productivity and more staff spending time off sick.
“Stress remains the top concern for health and safety workplace reps. It’s a particular problem in parts of the public sector like the NHS and local government that have been hit by cuts and top-down reorganisations. Sickness and absence from stress is one of the false economies of public sector austerity.”
1 October 201712:00pm–6:00pm
Castlefield Arena, Rice Street, Manchester M3 4JR
National demonstration as part of the week-long Take Back Manchester festival organised by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity to coincide with the Conservative Party conference.
No more austerity | scrap the pay cap | Tories out – for decent health, homes, jobs and education
March for for decent health, homes, jobs and education. Public service workers need a pay rise. #PayUpNow #ScrapTheCap
National demonstration on the opening day of the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, organised by the People’s Assembly.
Assemble from 12pm, Castlefield Arena Rice Street, Manchester M3 4JR.
The demonstration is part of a week of protest, demonstrations, cultural events, rallies, comedy, music and public meetings all across Manchester.
|REPRESENTATIVE||PHONE NUMBER (S)|
RICHARD STRADLING (NPS)
0161 761 6419
ZOE TODD (C & L CRC)
PHILL TAYLOR ( C & GM CRC)
01442 229 5805
PENNY FORMAN (CAFCASS)
ALTERNATIVELY MEMBERS CAN RING;
UNISON DIRECT ON 0800 085 7857
OR THE BRANCH OFFICE (NB: THE OFFICE IS ONLY STAFFED BETWEEN TUESDAY AND THURSDAY)
87 MOSS LANE WEST
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I’ve worked in probation for a long time. It has never been perfect, but before then-justice secretary Chris Grayling got his hands on it, it was said to be a high-performing public service. Now, though, it is difficult to believe what a complete mess it is in.
I work in a community rehabilitation company (CRC), one of 21 private sector firms working with so-called medium- and low-risk clients. Many people are on my caseload because of domestic violence, and there are often concerns about the impact on their children. Most have alcohol, drug or mental health issues. It’s always been a worrying job.
But the CRC I work for is now owned by a company that doesn’t understand my work. These private companies are still miles off the pace in trying to deliver an impossibly complex contract, supervising hundreds of thousands of offenders. After experiences that have included shedding a third of staff, setting up partnerships from scratch, sourcing new buildings, many of which are hard to access, and installing open booths for us to work in, we have been left working in what one client memorably nicknamed “Mickey Mouse probation”.
That particular client refused to use the open booths because of his offence and history. Instead we met outside or in group rooms, when available. I personally feel very uncomfortable when I have to use a booth to meet clients. It means most of our face-to-face work is overheard, overseen and open to disruption. Not surprisingly there has been an increase in incidents, which now seem to occur on a daily basis.
The problems don’t stop there. The interface with the National Probation Service is fractured: cases swap between the two systems as they go back to court, with mistakes rife, and palpable friction between the organisations. Essentially we feel we are misleading the courts and the public every day about what we can deliver. It is frightening.
Promises of new ways of working, and new IT systems, haven’t materialised, leaving us tied to the existing, inefficient technology to hit our funding-linked targets. Frequent inspections and auditing – akin to something out of Big Brother – confirm that the best we can hope to be is sufficient. Any poor record keeping is met with commands by email to rectify things immediately.
The Guardian 2nd September 2017
This year’s festival will be another fun packed day of activities in The Wiend, Wigan town centre.
With live music and other entertainment across two stages, film showings, kid’s activities, educational talks, exhibitions, puppet shows and lots of other stuff going on in nearby venues and Wigan town centre.
We’ll also have our usual and ever popular ‘Occupie Wigan’ beer tent, and over 50 food, book, campaign and other stalls.
Around 5,000 people attended last year’s event, and a great time was had by all. We’re planning on making this year’s even bigger and better. Why not come and jin us and make a day of it?
Please invite your family & friends