UNISON has learnt that Brighton & Hove City Council is proposing
(at the Health and Wellbeing Board on 10th June 2014) to privatize
seven Residential Services for people with learning disabilities. The
report claims that these services can be provided in the private and
voluntary sector “at lower cost”. There will be a lobby of the Health and Wellbeing Board meeting at Hove Town Hall from 3pm on Tuesday, 10th June – please join us if you can!
As staffing costs make up 90% of the service expenditure, and other
costs (such as buildings) are fixed, there is only one way that “lower
cost” services can happen, and that is by slashing the salary, terms
and conditions of staff. All of these have been achieved over many
years by UNISON, and the Branch will not stand by while these hard
won benefits for staff, whose work is exceptionally demanding and
of the highest standard, are destroyed.
The report states, “there is no reason to believe that the private and
voluntary sector could not deliver very successful, high quality
services to these people.” What it fails to do is justify why the
services should be transferred out, when that is the case currently, in-house.
It continues, “The accommodation provided by the council is
expensive….” That is absolutely correct, and that is due to the staff
and trade unions demanding the best for the most vulnerable in
our community. If the services are allowed to be sent to the
voluntary and private sector, corners will be cut, and staff pay
reduced – this is no assumption, but fact, as evidenced from
reports across the country.
UNISON has immediately written to the Chief Executive, to
complain about the secrecy and underhand manner in which
this report has suddenly appeared – the officers have broken
a long-standing arrangement (operated by all three political
groups over many years) with UNISON, by which reports
such as this were discussed with ourselves first, and a strategy
agreed, that kept the anxiety of staff and service users to a
minimum. Instead, selected staff were briefed by managers
over the weekend, but handed out information on TUPE
that was either misleading, or simply wrong – the
consequence was that staff anxieties were “sent through
The Branch is writing to all elected councillors asking them
to throw out this report at their meeting next week, and will
be asking all our members to lobby the committee.
Branch Secretary Alex Knutsen said “The proposals in this
report are quite appalling for both staff and service users.
We have fought long and hard for decent pay in what used
to be known as the “Cinderella” of residential services. The
report is exactly right to say our “unit costs” are higher than
other authorities and the private sector – what it omits to
state, is that our staff are the best and provide an exceptional
service. The only reason for privatizing these homes is cost
-cutting – UNISON will launch its biggest ever campaign
against these proposals, and in the run-up to next year’s
elections, take clear note of who is for and against us.”
For further information, contact Alex Knutsen on
01273 291611 or 07961025930.