Dear UNISON Members

 

The following email has just been submitted to senior officers and elected members at Salford City Council.

 

This marks our Joint Trade Union proposals, with regards to the City Council’s 2017/18 Budget.

 

We will update members on any discussions that take place.

 

Please keep an eye out for urgent emails.

Salford City Council 2017/18 Budget Proposals – Joint Trade Union Response
The Joint Trade Unions welcome the willingness of the City Council to engage in productive discussions about the 2017/18 Budget. As you are aware, the trade unions accept that many of the proposals should not cause detriment to either jobs or services and we recognise the attempts made to construct a budget which minimises harm.
However, there are aspects of the proposals that trouble us and that we do wish to challenge. The purpose of this document is to highlight the proposals to which we are opposed and to outline our suggestions as to how there implementation may be avoided.
At our last discussion with Cabinet, the following proposals were identified as ones that the trade unions were opposed to:
Review of Residential Property – £300,000
Redesign of Children’s Services (Health and Youth) – £450,000
Efficiencies from ICO – £1,762,000
Further to that, the following proposals were identified as ones that we may oppose and would have more information on before Budget Council on 22nd February:
Re-organise School Improvement Support – £50,000
Develop Short Breaks Personalised Budgets/Review Residential Contract – £100,000
Review the use of Highfield – £235,000
Reduction in Senior Management Costs and Redesign – £406,000
Reduction in Budget for Regulatory Services – £135,000
Review of Support Functions and Vacancies across Childrens Services – £280,000
Finally we requested the following saving, agreed as part of last year’s budget, is written off and no longer implemented:
Health Improvement Services – £140,000
The purpose of this document is to update you, on our views.
Change of Designation

Re-organise School Improvement Support – £50,000
While we remain concerned about this proposal and the impact it could have, we are not proposing outright opposition at this stage. However, we retain the right to challenge the specifics of these proposals once they are in consultation. Before we are able to fully withdraw our pre-Budget opposition, we are seeking assurances that reserves could be used to protect services if necessary.
Opposed Proposals

Develop Short Breaks Personalised Budgets/Review Residential Contract – £100,000
Having met with our members, we believe that any savings generated from this proposal should be re-invested into social care.
Review the use of Highfield – £235,000
Having met with our members, we believe that any savings generated from this proposal should be reinvested into social care.
Reduction in Senior Management Costs and Redesign – £406,000
Reduction in Budget for Regulatory Services – £135,000
These two points are taken together because £461,000 of the £541,000 total saving is intended to be saved from Regulatory Services. Having participated in the consultation, we believe it is at the very least too early to place such an ambitious target against that service area. The £461,000 target is largely based on the implementation of Transformation proposals that are not yet in place. Many of the proposed digital solutions may not even be legally or technically possible and we haven’t received a comprehensive assessment of how capacity can be created within this service area. Our view is that the target should be suspended and revisited in advance of next year’s proposals. Such an approach would allow for the introduction of any new digital technology and new ways of working, before decisions are made around staffing structures and jobs are lost. We believe that a one-off use of £461,000 of the General Fund reserves is an appropriate step in these circumstances, until a more informed decision can be taken around a service restructure.
A request for the suspension of the current consultation within this service area was submitted to the Head of Service on the morning of Friday 10th February.
Review of Support Functions and Vacancies across Childrens Services – £280,000
As with the Regulatory Services proposals above, we believe that this proposal should be suspended for 12 months and revisited in advance of the 2018-19 Budget. We feel that all Children’s Services staff should be involved in a wide-0ranging review that is not simply limited to the Admin staff whose roles are at risk.
Summary Cost:
Develop Short Breaks Personalised Budgets/Review Residential Contract – £100,000
Review the use of Highfield – £235,000
Reduction in Senior Management Costs and Redesign – £406,000
Reduction in Budget for Regulatory Services – £135,000
Review of Support Functions and Vacancies across Childrens Services – £280,000
TOTAL = £1,076,000
Red
• Review of Residential Property – £300,000
Having met with our members, we remain opposed to this proposal. We do not feel it is in the interests of either the staff or service users and their families for The Grange to close.
• Redesign of Children’s Services (Health and Youth) – £450,000
Having met with our members, we still believe that any savings should be re-invested into Youth Services.
• Efficiencies from ICO – £1,762,000
Following a productive meeting with Councillor Hinds and Neil Thornton, Chief Finance Officer, we recognise that this proposal is unlikely to impact on the delivery of social care services located within the ICO. However, we believe that the City Council should re-invest this reduction into the delivery of external social care, in order to raise standards for both workers and users.
Summary Cost:
Review of Residential Property – £300,000
Redesign of Children’s Services (Health and Youth) – £450,000
Efficiencies from ICO – £1,762,000
TOTAL = £2,512,000
Further Request

Health Improvement Services – £140,000
TOTAL = £140,000
Paying for Our Proposals
Salford City Council’s General Reserves stand at £14,307,000. This is £4,307,000 above the minimum threshold.
Additionally, the additional increase in council tax/precept will create £624,000 more than was anticipated when the proposals were first shared with us.
This leaves £4,931,000.
We believe that the City Council is able to meet its own test around reserves in order to prevent the following savings:
Reduction in Senior Management Costs and Redesign – £406,000
Reduction in Budget for Regulatory Services – £135,000
Review of Support Functions and Vacancies across Childrens Services – £280,000
That is because the reserves could be utilised as a one-off cost while further work is done to assess the viability of these proposals over the next twelve months. The cost of this would be £821,000
We believe the Council should be bold enough to use revenue from the social care precept and the general fund reserves to either prevent the following savings (in the case of The Grange) or to re-invest any money saved into adult and children’s social care:

Review of Residential Property – £300,000
Redesign of Children’s Services (Health and Youth) – £450,000
Efficiencies from ICO – £1,762,000
Develop Short Breaks Personalised Budgets/Review Residential Contract – £100,000
Review the use of Highfield – £235,000
Health Improvement Services – £140,000
Given the prominence that is currently being given to the state of social care, council finances generally and the issue with Surrey County Council, we believe Salford City Council could work with other Labour authorities over the next 12 months to campaign for the funding required to plug the gap that this would leave. If a concerted effort was made to do this (one the unions would support) and we were unsuccessful, we may not seek to make the same argument next year. There is in our view, no harm in trying – as in the very worst case scenario, we would have supported these services for an additional 12 months. The required “exit strategy” therefore is not to try again next year, should the attempt this year fail. The cost would be £2,987,000.
The total cost we are asking the City Council to commit is £3,808,000. This is £1,123,000 less than the Council has at its disposal, once the additional amount in the precept and the General Fund reserves are taken into account.

 

Thanks, Steve

 

Steven North

Branch Secretary, Salford City UNISON

Tel. No. – 07557281475

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