Friday, 27 November 2009

"Vote Fiona Bulmer: less carrot, more stick for Barnet's disadvantaged families"

I was once told I mustn't say anything nasty about Lynne Hillan (I'm still waiting for that sub-plot to unravel) so I won't. Hillan is favourite to succeed Mike Freer as leader of Barnet council when he steps down in a few days' time.

The Hendon Times suggests that another candidate is Fiona Bulmer, Underhill councillor and cabinet member for children's services. Since the last cabinet meeting, which approved moving to the next phase of the Future Shape programme, I have taken to calling Bulmer 'Carrot and Stick'.

One of the 'problems' that the latest Future Shape report addresses is that of 'disadvantaged' people; not that they HAVE problems, but that they ARE a problem - to Barnet as a whole:
A high level analysis, using an illustrative case study approach, estimates that the costs for the Barnet taxpayer for the 2% of families facing multiple disadvantages is £87.2 million per annum taking into account loss of income and council tax.
The best solution to this 'problem' that the report comes up with is the idea of mentors, ideally recruited from the communities from which 'disadvantaged' people come. I guess the idea is that such mentors can say: I dragged myself up by my own bootstraps, so can you.

Reading the report I have concerns that mentoring is going to be done as far as possible on the cheap. I also think it is wrong to blame the poor for their own poverty. We live in an unequal society, and getting more unequal. I came from a fairly 'disadvantaged' family myself and certainly have screwed up a few times in my life. Many people do. But coming from a working class or 'disadvantaged' family means the effects of mistakes are amplified. Failing to recognise that is a big failure in my view. Middle class and rich people moralising against 'disadvantaged' people is just plain offensive.

But, anyway, at the cabinet meeting, Fiona Bulmer's unique contribution to the debate on this was to ask, believe it or not, whether mentoring didn't risk spoiling the disadvantaged. She wanted mentoring to be time-limited, to have outcomes, and, if it didn't work, for there to be sanctions. If you must, carrot - help with analysing your 'issues' and thinking about ways to sort them out - but, most definitely, stick if this novel approach doesn't deliver desired results on time.

Carrot and stick. I have been trying to think what sort of stick might be applied to a disadvantaged family or individual that doesn't respond to being mentored quickly enough. Perhaps Bulmer would have them driven to the bounds of the borough and banished forever to Brent, say, or Camden, if they would have them.

1 comment:

Rog T said...

Yup, I agree with Big Fi Fi, the poor are to blame for being poor. I mean if they'd had the common sense to be born to rich parents, then they'd be rich.

As for mentoring, of course sh'es right. If they get too well mentored, we'd have no one to shovel shit for a pittance.

Lets face it if you are rich, it makes it awfully difficult to get staff and they would be far too uppity if they were properly educated.

See that's the problem with Left wing politics, these swivel eyed trots think that every one should CLEAN THEIR OWN BOG !!! How ridiculous is that.