The Joint Trade Unions presented the Welfare Rights budget report and a budget briefing to the committee.
The councillors voted to accept receipt of reports in order we could discuss the content.
Welfare Rights/Sheltered Housing
· How will the existing work of the Unit be covered if the unit is closed?
· What approaches have been made (or are going to be made) to the third sector to cover the work of the Unit?
· Has a disability impact assessment been carried out to determine affect of closing the Unit?
· Has any consultation with service users been undertaken?
· how will the views expressed be incorporated into the budget consultation process
We have asked for details of agency staff in order to ensure that there are opportunities for redeployment of staff vulnerable to redundancy.
We have asked for consultancy spends across the directorates
On the proposals affecting staff working in Children’s Services we were informed that talks on the restructures would be taking place with the trade unions. Reports on the outcomes of these consultations will follow.
Understandably members are confused between the statutory 30 day notice period and the consultation process.
The statutory process started on 7 January which means some staff could receive redundancy notices on 7 February. However others could receive them later as their restructures move at a different pace.
Consultation has begun across the service areas, further updates will be provided by our Officers representing members facing redundancy.
Some key dates for members to note in relation to the budget
Full Council 27 January.
This meeting will consider the budget report raised at General Functions
Cabinet 23 February
This meeting will approve the final content of the budget.
Full Council 3 March
This is attended by all of Barnet Councillors and votes of whether to accept this budget
To view the report submitted to General Functions Committee on 14 January please click here
As part of the budget consultation process the Joint Trade Unions are meeting with councillors.
We have submitted a number of reports.
To view our reports online click here
To view press release click here
A BIG thank you to Barnet UNISON members for the support you have shown the Welfare Rights Unit
Clearly the service is valued and key in supporting the most vulnerable members of our community
To view some of the messages we have received at such short notice click here
At short notice and as part of consultation we have submitted this report to Cabinet Committee this evening
To view our report click here
To view Appendix A click here
Council Budget 2009 UPDATE
Supporting the Vulnerable
First of all I want to thank those of you who have already sent messages of support to the welfare rights unit which is down be deleted in the budget proposals being considered at the Cabinet meeting tonight. We still need more of you to send in your messages of support. This is a service that provides to those with the highest need. In these severe economic times it is imperative that these service users are supported. Our report which we will be submitting to the Council (which will be publicly available found that the Unit is the last 12 months raised a staggering £1.8 million in benefits for service users in Barnet.
If you would like to send a message of support for this service please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sheltered Housing Scheme under threat as a result of proposed £950,000 budget saving. We have not had the opportunity to go through the proposals but our members working in sheltered accommodation understand that if this proposal goes through they will lose their jobs. We do not know who or what support will be provided to the 500 residents using this valuable service.
If you would like to send a message of support for the Sheltered Housing Service please email email@example.com
The Trade Unions have not had the opportunity to discuss the proposals as they first need to be approved at tonight’s Cabinet Committee. You can find the Budget proposals online at
What you can do
If you work in a service where there are redundancies please let the branch office know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or ringing the branch on 0208 359 2083/2088 in order we can arrange support for you and the service.
I hope everyone had a good holiday and I hope we all get at least something of what we want and need next year!
Those in Adult Social Services will be aware of the major restructuring taking place there. Since late November we have been incredibly busy working on the 11 new Role Profiles covering well over 100 staff members at all grades. I’ve held meetings with most staff groups to go over the Role Profiles and points raised have been forwarded to the management team at our consultation meetings. Many points have been taken on board but some key concerns remain:
– In the proposed new Role Profiles there is an expectation that staff will be working across disciplines. Social work staff will be expected to be able to assess and equip people with some Occupational Therapy equipment whilst OTs will be expected to assess and sort people out with some services usually arranged by social work staff. “Jack of all trades and master of none?” Or working more effectively and so providing a better service to the public resulting in less frustration?
– Non-professionally qualified staff will continue to make complex decisions and handle complex situations but will their pay reflect this? So far this has not been the case. UNISON will continue to press for the pay these staff deserve.
Most of what has been achieved could not have been so without the input of our members attending meetings and without the extra facility time given to the union. Has anything been achieved?
Role Profiles have been re-drafted and some major changes on some/ minor changes on others have been made reflecting the comments and questions raised by the unions. Whether this now means we all agree with the re-drafts is another matter!
On the 2 points outlined above there is greater insight into the complexity of the issues involved.
The next round of meetings should clarify the outstanding issues of principle.
I look forward to seeing everyone again in the next round!
Branch Chair and Adult Social Services steward.
You will be aware that in the weeks leading up to Christmas the Sun newspaper has managed to whip up a massive campaign against social workers blaming the individual social worker for the death of Baby P. It delivered a petition demanding the sacking of the social workers and managers involved in the case. Since then any child death reported in the media seems to be scrutinised for potential involvement by social workers and then discussed in terms of the failure to intervene.
Why? Could it be social workers try to work and understand people who are disadvantaged in society instead of simply labelling them as “scroungers” as one Sun journalist on the Today programme referred to people living on the estate in Dewsbury where Shannon Matthews lives?
The effect of the campaign against social workers will make it more difficult to recruit and retain workers in the profession – particularly in Child Protection work. It has overnight also pushed up the cost of caring for children as rather than take risks there has been an increase of some 36% of children being taken into care. In turn the work which relies on trust between the social worker and families has been damaged, potentially increasing the risk for vulnerable people. Well done the Sun and its readership!
UNISON issued a press statement before the Sun petition was handed in and pointed out the difficulties social workers face in their line of work. It was critical of the attacks by the popular press. This statement was accessible on-line.
In our Branch we have discussed the statement at a variety of meetings (latterly our last Branch Executive) and in each case our members agreed for our Branch to forward solidarity greetings to Haringey UNISON which is involved in defending social workers bearing the brunt of the attacks.
Leo Boland’s (our former Chief Executive) statement to all council workers (15.12.08 First Team) was helpful as far as it went, but we think he could have gone much further. For instance there needs to be a serious commitment to cutting down the bureaucracy which is tying our workers to the computer instead of them having more contact with families. He could also have pushed for the 2 extra annual leave days in recognition of our 4 star status for all council staff as a measure of goodwill.
We do not have to feel helpless in the face of this attack on social work and social workers. The Social Work Action Network (SWAN) has an on-line petition. If people want a meeting or further discussion about this and related issues, we can organise this – contact us.
Finally let’s be clear: if the Future Shape delivers privatisation of Children’s services this will do nothing to protect our children but will put more children at risk and result in more frustration for our social worker members.
Helen Davies Maggi Myland
Branch Chair Social Services Convenor