Hammond's homecare plans unravel

Peter Hammond and the Labour Party’s promise at the last local election was to keep the city’s home care service “in-house”. We might have understood from this there would be no more privatisation of Bristol city council’s home care service under a Labour council. An idea that Bristol Labour’s union friends were keen to put to their home care staff members in writing:

We have established the need for a Council to commit to its inhouse service, for the leadership of the council to commit to deliver services directly and respect its own workforce and the unique contribution we make to the communities of this City.

This looks to be in tatters tonight. Green councillor Charlie Bolton reports on his blog:

It appears that the proposals being worked on [for the home care service under Hammond’s supervision] did not include ‘not privatising home care’ as a key driver. I specifically asked this, and that was the answer I got.

Officers were also, again, unable to say what proportion of Home Care will be privatised as a result of these proposals.

This is not what Labour promised the electorate and is not what the unions told their members in May is it? The promise then was apparently not to privatise any more of the home care service. Why has this changed?

Now papers have theoretically appeared for a meeting on 20 November of the Care and Communities Scrutiny Commission, a meeting where elected councillors (and the public) can scrutinise the decisions of the relevant executive member – Peter Hammond. And this is what we find:

13. HOME CARE PROJECT: FINANCIAL ANALYSIS

Time limit for this item – 20 minutes
– deferred. Questions will be taken at the meeting.

(Report of the Director of Adult Community Care)

Normally there’d be a link from this item so that the public and councillors can access – what should be – public papers. Not this time. Hammond’s proposals on home care have been deliberately “deferred”, which seems to mean that nobody is able to see the extremely sensitive and controversial financial details of Hammond’s proposals for the future of the home care service.

Instead he – or rather the fall girl, head of social services, Annie Hudson – will take questions from councillors on the day. Although they will have no idea, in advance, what these financial proposals for the future of Bristol’s home care service are. This makes the job of properly scrutinising them difficult, if not impossible.

Hammond’s actions are an unusual interpretation of Helen Holland’s promise that “transparency in decision-making was absolutely paramount” for her new council back in May. Indeed Hammond’s process rather resembles a complete abrogation of the city’s democratic processes. What is in this report? And why won’t he let anyone see it in advance?

As we always knew they would have to, the Labour party look set to break clear promises that won them power in May. Although the suspicion is Hammond will attempt to fall-back on his non-committal statements in the council chamber back in May when he shamelessly dodged direct questions on his intentions for home care:

Instead of a simple commitment to keep the home care service in-house as they have appeared to promise, we were treated to vague, nice-sounding empty promises about home care:

“We will get it on a firm footing”; “there will be a level of stability”; “there will be a proper solution”; “it will be viable, workable, cost effective and fit for purpose”; “we will work with users, families, carers and the workforce”; “we will take a position on home care”.
The Bristol Blogger, It’s the Holland and Hammond show! May 22 2007

Whether Hammond gets away with his crude efforts at wordplay is down to Bunter Eddy’s benign and becalmed Conservative group, who we thought put this Labour minority administration in in May in order to keep the rest of the home care service “in-house”. Eddy and the rest of his party, if they really give a toss about the city’s electorate and the council’s home care workers, should be calling for a vote of no confidence if Hammond backslides on this. But will they?

And where this leaves Alun Beynon, the T&G bureaucrat who tirelessly sold his members the idea that Hammond and Labour were the solution to the threatened home care privatisation, is another mystery. The fact he also got his T&G members to directly campaign for his son – now Labour Councillor Sean Beynon – at the local elections on the basis that he would be saving home care – and their jobs – from privatisation begins to look even more dodgy now than it did then.

The Beynon’s are nothing short of a disgrace to the Labour movement.

This entry was posted in Bristol, Home Care, Labour Party, Local elections 2007, Local government, Politics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Hammond's homecare plans unravel

  1. The Blogger may like to see what is happening at Cabinet this Thursday on Residential Care Homes.

    http://www.bristol-libdems.org.uk/news/000147/residential_futures_care_home_report_is_foggy_and_short_on_detail.html

    One particular irony from this is hinted at in my question (8) …
    “Can he confirm that his proposals will place all non-specialist Elderly Persons Care Home provision in the City under Independent Sector control?”

  2. bristolian youff says:

    ohhhhh i seeee so the lib dems that came up with the idea of handing over vunrable people to the oh so benevolent private sector would like a little bit more clarity…… you cant even be blunt and representative of those you lot are meant to represent. all the current privatised homcare in bristol is a crock of shit and people fall ill because of it and end up in nhs hhospitals. how about this up your manifesto “dr” “cllr” cunt face or whatever your face is. keep the lot in the slightly more acountable state sector and fucking give a shit about peoples lives dont tip toe around it you wanker come out and say it i dare you to say you give a shit about 70 percent of the population. keep it fucking public! or go wank over bupa and we’ll take our streets back

  3. Bluebaldee says:

    Blimey! He’s cross, innee?

  4. Dear Mr Blogger,

    Facts should be important. Under the Lib Dem proposal headed by Cllr Keily FOUR HUNDRED Home Care workers would have been transfered to the private sector. Under Labour and Councillor Hammond’s proposal, NONE of them will be.

  5. thebristolblogger says:

    So Hammond’s going to privatise another 30% of the home care service but retain all the staff.

    Won’t that make the service 30% less efficient and even more costly than the private sector?

    Or have I missed something?

  6. Siesta says:

    Dear Mr ‘Home Care Supporter’ Benyon,

    Facts are indeed important.

    As everyone knows, both you and Labour promised explicitly that there would be no further privatisation of Home Care services.

    Your deal with Labour means that about 30 to 40% of Bristol’s existing home care users are going to see their services delivered by private, profit-hungry companies.

    But you obviously don’t care about them. In fact, you don’t even mention them.

    As for your figleaf of keeping the Home Care workers in the public sector – to do so they will have to sign new contracts. The new contracts will stipulate that they have to work longer in harder conditions for the same pay with less job security. If they don’t sign the new contracts, they’ll be sacked.

    Who needs the private sector with you around?

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