Even though we all knew it was coming, it doesn't really lessen the shock. In just a few words all 35 Probation Trusts are consigned to history. All that trouble we were put through in order to obtain Trust status on the basis we could be innovative, flexible, responsive etc etc blah blah blah, only to find we can't compete for our own work and those of us left will be nationalised and end up as bloody civil servants taking orders from Whitehall.
Like many others I suspect, the shock and depression is now turning to anger at the way a profession and honourable 106 year-old public service is being treated. But it's no good looking to chief's. The situation couldn't be more clear from them, just weasel words. I notice the chief of Hertfordshire pretty much summed things up and was duly praised by Sarah Billiald, 'particularly for the last paragraph' which I quote here:-
"I won't deny there is much sadness and frustration within the probation community; it is a service that has existed for over a century and is held in international high regard, leading the way on best practice, However the austerity measures are demanding radical changes from all public services, and probation is no exception. The challenge will be to make sure best practice and experience is not lost and opportunities for improving are realised. Managing this scale of transformation at this speed is going to be highly challenging, but we are a responsible, positive skilled work-force and will do our very best, despite our misgivings about the approach, risks and affordability."
No sign of anyone 'falling on their sword' any time yet in a magnificent gesture of defiance. We all know it's not really about austerity at all as this omnishambles will end up costing much more. It's about political dogma, pure and simple. It's about pushing more money into the hands of the giants like G4S and Serco, whatever that dreadful chap Sir Stephen Bubb may say in demanding that his voluntary sector get their noses in the trough too.
“This legislation is a welcome step forward. ACEVO has been closely engaged in the consultation process and it’s encouraging that the Government have listened to our concerns about the Work Programme- particularly reducing the size of contracts in the area that they cover as well as a divide on upfront payments and payments by results. With the work the sector already does with ex-offenders I’m confident that voluntary organisations will rise to the challenge of the ‘Rehabilitation Revolution’. But we will judge it by how many contracts are awarded to charities. We are fed up with being bid candy or supply chain fodder to the private sector. I want to see charities winning the prime contracts here. Nothing else will satisfy us.”
As his blog repeats "We know how it works. We invented and ran the probation service. We can do it again. Bring it on." What an utter prat, but it brought a smile to my face to learn how irritated he finds the recent rise in the fortunes of Nigel Farage and UKIP. Bring that on I say!
As the details of what Chris Grayling is proposing sinks in, the true scale of this omnishambes in-the-making begins to become ever clearer. Mark Easton at the BBC pretty well summed-up the challenges and pitfalls for charities intending to bid for the work and whether Payment by Results will actually work at all. Remember many charities got their fingers seriously burnt having dabbled with PbR on the Work Programme.
The prospects don't look promising when doubts are cast by people who know about this sort of thing, as highlighted here by an article on the Public Finance website:-
"Chris Grayling is in parliament today explaining his complex set of probation reforms to MPs. Never one to shirk a challenge, Grayling plans to: