A Proliferation of Partnerships
On the day that Private Eye ran the stories that G4S has been awarded the Help To Work contract by the DWP and Barnet council has handed the running of its cemeteries to Capita, my two stories will seem rather small fry. How can I compete with Capita’s statement that “processing of the deceased” is an “opportunity pipeline”. But I’ll try because today I’ve encountered two frustrating examples of that most modern of modern ways of doing things – partnership working.
Yesterday, small drops of water started coming through my bedroom ceiling. A wet patch started to spread with alarming speed across the ceiling. The Housing Association were on to it like a shot and within two hours, a bloke from the maintenance company they’ve contracted to do their maintenance work (working in partnership with drips?)was up in my loft. Not good news – there is a hole in the roof. And neither party in this partnership deal with rooves. That is down to the owner of the property. Hold it right there. The housing association aren’t the owners? No. This is how it works. The council has a duty to house Steven and he joined the council waiting list. Unfortunately, the council doesn’t have the housing stock for its homeless residents. So, the council sets up a partnership with a housing association who do have a housing stock. We move in. Then today, we discover a third party in the partnership deal – the owner of the house we’re living in. (I don’t know if Steven counts as a fourth party in the partnership as he’s the tenant. I suspect not – he’s not important enough. All I want to know is, out of this holy trinity, who is responsible for roof repairs? One of the great bonuses of partnership working is that it becomes nigh impossible for those on the receiving end of the service, to find out where the responsibility for anything lies. Public services have become like convoluted private equity firms, where tracing ownership is impossible. It works a treat.
Later, I had to go into Uxbridge to pay the direct payment tax bill(another of the joys of personalization). Sitting outside Gregg’s was an example of Hillingdon’s non building based drop in services. Half a dozen service users crammed around one table. Two staff from the agency contracted to facilitate outreach services, were spread out on an adjoining table. A third worker was plugged into a fascinating text exchange by the scones. I stood there for ten minutes and not a single second of engagement took place. One guy spent the whole time trying to unwrap a sandwich. Another guy was caked in jam from several doughnuts.I remember the announcement in my carer’s newsletters about the exciting possibilities this partnership between the council and the agency would bring for the service user. I’m sure that the agency are quids in and the council has managed to rid itself of another pesky service that it has a statutory duty to provide. I can’t for the life of me see what is exciting for the service user in this modern way of working.
Coming home I saw a poster advertising a “carer’s fair” next month. It is being run by several local charities in partnership with the council. On similar lines I’ve got the review of the personal budget next week and one of the people attending is from a local disability charity, who are in partnership with the council to provide “personal budget support”. Its a massive win win for the council – they get shot of a job they don’t want to do (provide support for the recipients of their personalization scheme) whilst getting the charities well and truly in their pockets. As I learned in 2010, even though these charities exist to support the disabled and their carers, they can’t actually do that for fear of upsetting their paymasters.
A final gripe – I don’t like the phrase ” working in partnership with families”. That’s not how its meant to work. In public service, you’re meant to serve. That is the deal of that partnership.
From → Social Care