THE leader of Barnet Council has defended the authority’s approach to outsourcing, as a union raises fresh warnings over its risks.

Barnet Unison says 92 per cent of the current council workforce – the equivalent of 1,540 full time posts – face the likelihood of being outsourced.

This includes jobs in school catering, the library service, street cleaning and family services.

But the council says it has to change in order to save £81million over the next five years – but it has “no pre-determined view” on how services should be delivered.

It also says children and family services will not be outsourced to a profit-making company, which would be illegal.

A series of strikes have been held over the past few months in opposition to further cuts and outsourcing, which Unison says will damage working conditions and accountability to taxpayers.

Barnet Unison branch secretary John Burgess said: “We have had seven years of Future Shape, EasyCouncil, One Barnet and now Commissioning Council and we are finally at the point we predicted back in 2008, that the council was looking to handover their staff to other employers, leaving behind a small core of workers.

“Whilst the council will claim that decisions have not been made, staff in Barnet are fully aware of the ‘direction of travel’ for staff and will now be no doubt be making their own plans.

“This news presents a serious risk particularly for social services as social workers are highly likely to consider moving elsewhere. There is already a social work recruitment and retention crisis in Barnet this news is unlikely to help.”

Council leader Councillor Richard Cornelius said: "Our focus is to make sure that valued local services are provided to residents in the most efficient way. Over the next five years the council needs to save £81million, which means we have to change, but it is also a chance to do things differently and better.

“We are already successfully working across the public, private and voluntary sectors to provide the best outcomes for residents and have no pre-determined view on how services should be delivered and by whom.

“After carefully considering all the options, the proposal going before council is for 475 staff from the education and skills service be transferred to work for Cambridge Education, saving £1.88 million per year and ensuring our education service remains one of the best in the country.”

Cllr Cornelius added: “We are also currently in the early stages of exploring how a range of services can best be provided for residents in the future and learning from what others are already doing well, however we are clear that our children and family services will not be outsourced to a profit-making company which would be illegal.”