More details are beginning to emerge concerning the timeline for the proposed probation omnishambles and I’m grateful to a reader for supplying a summary from their Trust and I quote selectively from it:-
Phase 1 (to August 2013) The implications of the split between the public sector and competed services for staff and for workload will be worked through on paper.
Phase 2 (August 2013 - March 2014) operational staff will be allocated to either the public sector probation service or the competed services through a matching and selection process. The competition will be advertised in August/September.
Phase 3 (April - October 2014) all staff are transferred to either the National Probation Service or the ‘NewCo’ - a government owned holding company. This will allow the new operating model to be tested.
Phase 4 (November 2014 onwards) Contracts will be signed with the providers who will take over the 21 ‘NewCo’s’.
“From April 2014 staff who will be working in the competed services will move over to one of 21 ‘NewCos’, coterminous with the contract package areas announced in the government’s response to Transforming Rehabilitation. Essentially, these will be holding companies which will be government owned. Each ‘NewCo’ would be led by a management team from within the Trust. It will operate in this way for between three and nine months until all staff and assets move over to the new provider in the autumn/winter 2014. It is not anticipated that there will be any immediate changes for staff, although restructuring is likely over time.
Of the 18,000 staff currently employed by Probation Trusts, approximately 6,000 will transfer to the new Public Sector Probation Service. The structure of the PSPS will be seven divisions and the Local Delivery Units based on local authorities will be the building blocks. These will be clustered to form units which take account of police force areas.
The competition will be advertised in late August. Between august and October, prime bidders will go through a pre-qualifying questionnaire process.Those who meet a quality threshold and who are financially viable will go forward to a dialogue process (autumn 2013 - January 2014) and will submit full bids by spring 2014. Contracts will be awarded by October 2014.
I can promise that we will endeavour to treat all staff fairly and follow due process when it comes to the difficult process of allocating staff either to the National Probation Service or to the services going to the new provider.”
The latter point seems to confirm that it will be left up to individual Trusts to undertake the invidious process of selecting who stays and who goes. As has already been pointed out in several quarters, this will inevitably lead to to a huge number of grievances being lodged and that should clog the system up nicely for quite a few months.
The Ministry of Justice recently published further details of how the contracts will be framed and has invited comment on the proposals. Russell Webster outlines the main aspects in his recent post here and makes the point that the MoJ clearly intend to leave it up to individual bidders as to how much risk they are prepared to take in terms of the Payment by Results element. So bidders will not just be competing on price, they will have to compete on the proportion of PbR as opposed to fixed fee. Oh it’s definitely an omnishambles in the making this one!
Meanwhile NAPO are still bravely trying to give the impression that it’s ‘business as usual’ despite having now lost the services of a joint chair, thus leaving some members concerned regarding the remaining incumbent’s mandate. Still, at least Harry Fletcher has at last ‘broken cover’ and has started tweeting somewhat half-heartedly for the cause whilst undertaking his new work on anti-stalking. I wonder if he might be tempted in the coming months to shed some light on what exactly has been going on behind the scenes at Chivalry Road?
The No10 petition can still be found here.
Courtesy of Jim Brown at On Probation Blog