Does the organisation have a member(s) with relevant coaching certificate(s) and is/are the member(s) significantly involved in coaching?
If yes, increase relief by up to 10%
YES / NO
Does the organisation actively encourage membership from disadvantaged groups, identified by the Council as priority for development, and have a fee or charging structure which encourages use or participation from these groups?
If yes, increase relief by up to 10%
YES / NO
Does the organisation have teams mostly consisting of the disadvantaged groups?
If yes, increase relief by up to 10%
YES / NO
Are the facilities freely available for non-members e.g. school use, casual public sessions?
If yes, increase relief by up to 15%
Sliding scale on usage by non-members
0% to 14% = 5%
15% to 19% = 7.5%
20% or above = 15%
YES / NO
Does the organisation have a written policy or plan, which aims to increase and improve opportunities for people, particularly young people and socially disadvantaged groups, to participate in its activities and development opportunities and is that plan being actively pursued?
If yes, increase relief by up to 40%
YES / NO
Does the organisation have a current agreement with the local authority to manage sport facilities?
If yes, increase relief by up to 10%
YES / NO
Total relief cannot exceed 100%
INFORMATION REQUIRED TO SUBSTANTIATE THE ABOVE
Copy of the Memorandum and Articles of Association or Rules of the Association (including fees and charges)
Copy of the latest Audited accounts and balance sheet.
Copies of any Development Plans prepared by the organisation.
Any other information that you feel would support your application.
NOTE ABOUT CALCULATIONS
Reference to percentages are in relation to 100%, therefore if relief is reduced by 10% and then by 50% overall the total is reduced by 60%.
Where claim is for discretionary relief to ‘top up’ an 80% mandatory relief award and total score comes to less than 80% then no ‘top up’ relief is given. Where a score of 81% - 100% is obtained then the percentage of ‘top up’ relief given is equal to the score obtained minus 80. For example, a score of 95 would result in ‘top up’ relief of 95 minus 80 = 15%.
2015-2018 Budget Update and Strategic Approach
Including the Council’s response to issues raised
Overview of Trade Unions Position
The trades unions were served a HR1 notice of redundancies on 10th November 2014. The Trade Union and Labour Relations Consolidation Act 1992 (TULRCA) requires employers to consult with trades unions in a meaningful way with a view to reaching agreement. Therefore our expectation is that in your response we see tangible evidence of meaningful consultation. It is worth noting that the HR1 does not identify any managerial posts for redundancy.
This is because the HR1 doesn’t separately classify any employees as being Managerial so therefore would not be appropriate to identify possible redundancies. This is because the Council does not employ and staff as “pure managers” but instead identifies staff that have supervisory, managerial or senior managerial roles within the professional or technical categories. As the joint Trade Unions are aware the Council has sought to reduce the overall costs of “management” as a priority within the previous and current budget strategies with a much greater proportion of reductions in senior and middle management to that of lower graded staff. This is particularly the case at Director and Assistant Director level where this has reduced by 50% since 2009. To imply otherwise in the response if inaccurate.
Politics is a dynamic situation and with even the cleverest of political pundits being unable to predict the outcome of the election, we believe that the proposals to set a two year budget with a move to Bolton becoming a commissioning council to be premature, leaving no flexibility to alter the fundamental premise contained in the report.
The Council does not accept the point that this budget moves the Council fundamentally away from direct service delivery as the vast majority of budget options see Council Services being provided in-house
Whilst all the mainstream parties have committed to reduce the deficit and balance the books, the Labour party have promised fairer distribution. We don’t know exactly what this means, however to make plans which will have far reaching long term implications for service provision, terms and conditions and democratic accountability, it is a rash move which will in our view have political and industrial consequences. In addition it is not inconceivable that one of the smaller parties may hold the balance of power and shift the current economic status quo.
There is no legal requirement for the council to set out a two year budget, indeed the only requirement is for councils to set a legally balanced in year budget. Current projections are that £24.843 of cuts is required for 2015/16. Given the council has received over 500 requests for voluntary severance / voluntary redundancy, together with vacancy management and service reviews this figure is more than achievable.
Overview of Council Response to Trade Union Position
The Council is grateful to the joint Trade Unions for the detailed response to the budget consultation. The Council is committed to working with the Trade Unions in dealing with a very difficult budget situation and reaffirms that mitigating the impact on the workforce is a key part of the Council’s strategy for the 2015-17 budget. The Council believes that the approach that has been taken over the past four years and for the 2015-17 period in respect of the avoidance of compulsory redundancies, retention of terms and conditions of employment and the continuation of the Council’s polices on redeployment and pay protection etc place the Council among the best local authority employers in the region.
The Council understands and expects that many of the proposals for meeting the budget 2015-17 will be opposed in principle and practice by the Trade Unions given the impact of the budget reductions on Council Services and jobs and the extent of change that many of the options will bring to working arrangements. The Council acknowledges that the extent and amount of change experienced by the workforce has been significant and would want to pay tribute to the ongoing public service commitment that has shown by staff.
The Council is, however, disappointed by the overall tone and content of the Trade Union response as in a number of areas despite efforts to engage and explain the background to proposals and further information being provided this does not appear to have been taken on board and the Council feels misrepresented in a number of important areas. This is explained in more detail in the relevant sections of the response. The Council would wish to make it clear that the report approved by the Cabinet in November does not seek to move the Council to becoming a commissioning council and the proposals are based upon retaining services in their current form where practical.
The trade unions position is to set a legal budget for 2015/16 and to review this following the outcome of the general election.
If the proposals as set out are approved, section 4.2 of the report on delivery capacity will commence immediately.
The Council accepts the point raised in the response that the precise nature of continued austerity and funding reductions post the 2015 General Election is not certain and could result in an improvement or worsening of the position. Given the proportion of the 2016/17 reduction that are as a result of increased costs rather than proposed reductions in grant though this is likely to be at best £3-5m. The Council has already taken this into account in the following ways:
The lower end of the budget reduction options over the two years is £38.5m automatically building in the flexibility required if the position improves
Back loading the budget reductions to 2016/17 and using reserves to fund this so that the Council has time to adjust the budget if the situation improves. This means that no budget reductions will have been implemented that are not necessary if the financial environment improves
Strategically it is very important to plan over a two year funding cycle as delivering the budget over two years will be extremely challenging and to set a one-year only budget would mean that the Council will almost certainly fail to balance the budget over the medium term which would result in less well planned and delivered reduction creating a greater impact on services and employees.
The Council believes that the approach proposed is the correct balance between strategic planning over the medium term, using reserves to smooth and backload the implementation of a very complex budget position and leaving sufficient flexibility if the position improves post the 2015 General Election.
The trades unions are fundamentally opposed to the proposals in section 4.2 which commits up to £3m of public money on private consultants and increased payments for senior managers.
The Council has repeatedly sought to explain to the trade unions that this interpretation of the proposals relating to ensuring the budget is delivered is inaccurate and misleading. The post consultation budget report explains in detail the proposals relating to use of the one-off resources (repeat here) but in summary the key points are as follows:
The size and scale of the budget reductions for 2015-17 are very significant and many of the budget options are complex and time consuming
The organisation, especially at senior management level, has significantly less capacity that in 2010 and does not have the capacity or resource to deliver the budget as well as the ongoing regeneration programmes, council services and other key projects such as health and social care integration
Many of the budget options involve advice or expertise that the Council doesn’t have completely in-house such as relating to ICT, systems and processes, legal and financial issues
It is in all parties interests to ensure that the overall programme and individual projects and reviews are deliver on-time, to budget and in a quality way. To not ensure that there is sufficient capacity to do so would be a failure in the professional responsibility of Council Officers.
In addition, it is inaccurate to describe this as being about increased payments for senior managers, the detailed proposals are around appropriate backfilling of existing staff to enable them to deliver the budget options or the creation of temporary posts to create the necessary capacity. The Council remains committed to explaining and discussing the capacity and delivery arrangements with the Trade Unions as part of a constructive dialogue.
The trade unions note that the proposals set out in the Capita report are neither innovative nor original and that the council failed to get value for money for the expenditure of £50k. The report could have been compiled by any senior manager with a reasonable understanding in this field of work. It has set out a plan which takes absolutely no account of public interest, scrutiny or accountability. It does however make numerous references for the need for additional expertise. Presumably this is to feather the nest of the numerous private consultants happy to get their hands on taxpayers’ money in the revolving door of the world they inhabit.
By contrast we note that the proposals to share services with a neighbouring authority have been devised without any recourse to costly consultants. The plan to making savings of £2-3m whilst protecting front line services in Environmental Services is something which we believe ought to be explored in other departments. We would also wish it to be noted of our concern that proposals made by the trade unions to examine sharing a Chief Executive with another authority were dismissed out of hand.
The Trade Unions submission is entirely inaccurate in its assertion in respect of the external advice in re the shared service with Wigan Council on Environmental Services. This option was integral to the work undertaken by Capita and came forward through this route.
Though the devil lies in the detail, the trade unions would like to see shared services with other local authorities explored ahead of outsourcing.
The Council has explored option for sharing services with other Council and does so both at a GM and individual council level e.g. certain finance functions with Manchester. Further options for how this could operate are open to be explored as part of detailed budget reviews
The trades unions and indeed the general public have an expectation that elected members of the council uphold some simple principles of fairness and accountability. The proposals as set out by the Chief Executive in his report fall short of the expectations of our members as workers and citizens of the town.
The proposal to set up an Arm’s Length Company for the delivery of Adult Social Care is disingenuous and flawed. It concedes democratic accountability and implements an unfair pay structure. It is clear to anyone with a basic understanding of industrial relations that to deliberately set out to have a company with a two tier workforce is divisive and ill conceived. It is not surprising that a company like Capita should advocate such a system given their business is based on a model only interested in the ‘bottom line’ and not on human relationships and social consequences. We do however expect more from elected Labour politicians.
At least £10m was spent on implementing a fair pay and grading system which addressed historical inequalities between the value of male and female work. These proposals not would only undermine the spirit of the Single Status Agreement but will take us back to a time when care work undertaken almost wholly by women had a lesser value than male manual/craft workers.
The trades unions are fundamentally opposed to the formation of a new company to deliver Adult Social Care and the imposition of a two tier workforce. The council will risk damaging industrial relations should it approve this proposal.
The Council understands that the Trade Unions will oppose the principle of the establishment of an arm’s length company for adult social care. This is not a proposition that the Council has entered into lightly nor is it a proposition that the Council would chose to do in different financial circumstances. The Council has proposed this way forward as the least worse option given the budget reductions being faced. The background and alternatives are as follows:
The provision of personal social services to eligible clients is a statutory entitlement and the Council does not have the option to reduce the level of provision unlike with most other council services
The Council is therefore faced with the decision either to reduce the cost of Adult Social Care, outsource the service to the private/voluntary sector, reduce further other council services or reduce other e.g. employee costs. These alternatives were set out in the budget report but at this point in time the Council has not received consultation feedback that persuades the Council that these options are preferable to the one proposed
The Council is committed to working in detail with the Trade Unions on the best way to deliver this option if approved and would wish to ensure constructive employee relations in this context.
Detailed response to the proposals set out in the report of the Chief Executive 10th November 2014
Compulsory Redundancies / T&C’s
The trade unions note that the council has honoured the unwritten ‘agreement’ to avoid compulsory redundancies and attacks on terms and conditions. Whilst we welcome this position it should be noted that the loss of 1350 jobs with a further 500 over the next two years will have a significant impact on the economy in Bolton both in terms of spending power and decent available jobs.
In Bolton we have already witnessed £100m cuts and 1350 job losses. In November 2014 Bolton Council announced that it was to consult all stakeholders on even deeper cuts to jobs and services with a budget reduction of £43m over the next two years and up to 500 job losses. In context this is 25% of the controllable budget.
This makes this budget extremely challenging for the trade unions to engage in consultation and negotiating as it has done in previous years. Previous budget options have usually identified service areas alongside the number jobs which are being proposed for redundancies, the trade unions then have the opportunity to engage with each of the departments on their rationale for service redesign or restructure. Whilst the proposals include such service reviews the two year strategy is clear and fundamentally shifts the principle of directly provided services as the best method of delivery high quality services.
The Council acknowledges that this is a strategic budget consultation but would emphasise that further detailed consultation will take place on all budget options with most options not being implemented before 2016/17
These proposals are far wider reaching, including “Alternative Delivery Models” and yet more service reviews. These cuts are the start of putting a ‘sledgehammer’ through local government as we know it here in Bolton, and with the reality that Government is not even half way through its austerity programme.
The Council has been clear that the impact of the budget reductions are potentially significant but the Council is also pleased that the work to date to mitigate the reductions has been effective in a number of areas. This will be closely monitored in the forthcoming budget round
Adult social care is in crisis. A recent report by Age Concern put the cost of ‘bed blocking at £640m and laid the blame at inadequate care arrangements. Children’s services are under increasing attacks with preventative services seemingly an easy target for cuts without evaluating the full cost benefit analysis of such services. Environmental services face regular public scrutiny particularly in the face of increased council tax.
Despite the unprecedented cuts being imposed by the government, the Council is still referring to savings and efficiencies. It is time for the Council to be honest that these proposals are cuts and we will struggle to deliver services to the standard that this council has previously achieved and indeed prided itself on. Council leaders in Birmingham, Newcastle and Liverpool have publically stated the devastation that cuts on this level will have on their cities.
We also want to acknowledge these cuts hit our members on a number of levels and we will address this within our response. Our members are your employees and at the same time the majority are citizens in this town and will be users of the services you propose to change, or cut. Changes to the structure of funding for grants in the community and voluntary sector and to the operation of some contracts will impact on the jobs available to the wider Bolton community, meaning that in effect, the jobs lost as a result of this budget may far outweigh the 500 from the Council structure.
In section 4.2 of the Chief Executives report, there are proposals to address the capacity issues when delivering the cuts. The so called “Transformation Office” with a budget of up to 3m to include cover for the costs of seconding senior managers and their backfill and the use of outside consultants who will oversee the delivery of the cuts is a deep concern to us.
We note the very different approach for senior managers. Over recent years line managers and workers in the organisation have been tasked to plan and deliver changes to services with no additional support, pay and cover.
The Council fundamentally rejects the accusation that the approach to capacity issues with senior managers is fundamentally different. This is inaccurate with the vast majority of staff at Assistant Director level and above being given much expanded workloads without an increase in grade. The Council does not disagree that many council employees have worked hard to absorb additional work but feels that the attempt to negatively portray senior management in this regard is unhelp and profoundly incorrect.
Since 2010 and the start of the austerity agenda, trades unions have worked with the employer to ensure that all job losses have been met by voluntary means. This has not been without its problems. As workers leave to take VER/VS, members who remain in the workforce have not seen a reduction in their workload. Indeed, workload is the single biggest workplace issue, after job security, which members raise with the unions. Many are suffering symptoms of stress whilst others have had to take sick leave when the burden becomes too great.
The council has a duty of care to its workforce and this clear disparity in resources needs to be addressed. For every job lost there is a knock on impact on our remaining Council staff.
The trade unions wish it to be noted our position on ‘Cease and Diminish’ as we proceed through these next budget options. As we get into more detail regarding the service reductions and commence dialogue on cease and diminish, it is our position that if the employer cannot clearly demonstrate which work will cease and diminish as jobs are lost, we will not rule out consulting our members to commence a dispute.
The Council acknowledges the importance of being clear on “cease and diminish” and takes seriously our duty of care to staff and wish to work positively with the trade unions to ensure that work is prioritised and expectations are reasonable. The Council would highlight both the IiP review and the staff survey as strong evidence that the Council has continued to provide strong support and care for staff and that under the challenging circumstances that morale, motivation and satisfaction of staff as remained good.
Capita Report / Outsourcing
It must also be noted that the trade unions are being asked to comment on the budget options, many of which are predicated on a report produced by Capita for the Council, without having had access to a full copy of the report, having only been presented with an executive summary as late as a couple of weeks ago from the date of writing.
We feel that this is ineffective consultation and limits our ability to comment on those options that have been appraised as well as those that have been recommended in the Capita report. It is disappointing that the Council has taken this tact when it has stated that its intention is to fully involve the trade unions, and particularly given the context of the s188 in relation to the budget options and the legal requirement for meaningful consultation.
It is important to emphasise that the Trade Unions view of the Capita Report and its role in the budget process is not accepted by the Council. The Trade Unions are seeking to make an argument that is fundamentally flawed based upon an incorrect interpretation of the purpose of the work. This work and report was a detailed assessment of issues and options re alternative delivery models. The decisions taken in respect of the budget proposals in most respects did not propose the option that would maximise the budget reduction available to the Council but the option that potentially sat closest to the maintenance of direct council service delivery. This is particularly the case with the proposals to share environmental services with Wigan and dealing with the digital and administrative review in-house. The Trade Unions have had all of the relevant information and the Council is willing to sit down and explain the background and issues in further detail if that is what is required.
The Council has explained to the Trade Unions on a number of occasions including by sharing the brief, in various meeting and through an Executive Summary of the work produced the Council’s External Advisors that the purpose of this work was to:
Provide Council members with the maximum amount of information about potential alternative service delivery models and their pros, cons, issues and risks
Sought to provide Council Members with a detailed understanding of the potential financial savings from alternative delivery models and how this could be achieved
This capacity and expertise provided by Capita on these issues was far in excess of that available in-house within the Council and provided Council Members with information upon which to make proposals relating to the Council’s budget.
It is important to highlight that the budget proposals are the Council’s formed by many hours of discussion and debate by elected Councillors following advice from Council Officers
Bolton Council Reserves
The Council’s consultation report agrees to earmark £40m of one off funding from reserves to deliver the two year budget. The trades unions have consistently called for the council to use its reserves to mitigate cuts to jobs and services.
Whilst we welcome the decision to use reserves, on examining the finances we believe the council could make further use of its reserves to ‘protect’ some of the services which will be cut.
It is disappointing that preliminary informal discussion did not take place with the trade unions to see if we could form an agreement as to where the reserves would be best used.
However, from information shared with the union, it appears that the Council reserves have increased significantly since we received an overview of the accounts around 12 months ago. So why not allocate more money from the reserves in 2015/16 to protect services and jobs? £8million would keep Adult Services in-house.
It is our position that whilst the cuts are being imposed by the coalition government there are still some choices open to local politicians. On examining the reserves we believe that an increase in use of reserves ought to be used to balance the books over the next two years to defend in house services.
With respect to the Trade Unions position on reserves the Council rejects the assertion “that it is disappointing that preliminary informal discussion did not take place to see if we could form and agreement as to where the reserves would be best used” in the strongest possible terms. The Council spent a significant amount of time including via a shared presentation in December outlining the background to Council reserves, their purpose and how they were being used for the budget as requested by the Trade Unions. This meeting took place in December and subsequent to the meeting no further requests or suggestions on this matter have been made by the Trade Unions to management before the response to consultation. This is a matter for the Trade Unions not the Council.
Adult social care
Adult social care is a service which is under public scrutiny and is in crisis. Integrated health and social care is laudable but it is a falsehood to suggest that channelling NHS resource through the Better Care Fund for example, is the solution. This recycling of money is unlikely to be sufficient and a long term political solution is required.
Adult social care is high on the political agenda currently and is under enormous scrutiny given the rise in demand for older care and care packages. Placing the care of the vulnerable in an arm’s length model, despite any ‘best intentions’, also places the services one step closer to the private sector. The care of the elderly can be a very profitable business and in essence allows for ‘assets stripping’ of services which should very much be resisted.
Our members in Adult Social Care lost up to £6,000 in the restructure in 2013/14. the purpose of the review was to make the service competitive with other providers whilst acknowledging that the cost remained higher than the private sector. It was explained that a good quality in house service would be able to set itself up as a ‘niche market’ taking on the more complex cases rejected by the private sector.
The joint unions feel it is disingenuous for Bolton Council to inform the press that ‘we are coping’ giving the impression all is well. There are issues within Adult social care as it is working to maximum capacity, and it would, in our view, be more open and honest to admit that the council, in face of the most vicious of government cuts, is struggling, but they and their dedicated staff are doing the best they can.
The proposals in the report to drive down further the T&C’s of workers in a new company clearly shows the disingenuous approach of management dealing towards its staff.
We believe that until a long term solution to the care crisis is found, council reserves ought to be used to continue to deliver high quality in house adult social care. The report predicts “savings” of between £2.5m and £4m “over a number of years” by outsourcing the service. By using reserves and reducing council overheads the service could continue to be delivered in house.
The joint trade unions fundamentally reject the proposal to create a new company which is deliberately designed with the intention of having a two tier workforce. The move fundamentally undermines the spirit of the Single Status Agreement which enshrines a set of key principles one of which states:
“We are jointly committed to the local democratic control of services to the community as the primary role of local government”
And another being
“Equality as a core principle which underpins both service delivery and employment relations”
This historical agreement between the national employers and trades unions in 1997, embraced by Bolton Council, was designed to value the work of women and address the undervaluing of social care work. .
We are particularly concerned that the Council believe it is right to transfer staff to a new company on their existing terms and conditions and create a new tier with significantly worse terms and conditions. When TUPE situations occur into or from the council it has always been the trade unions position to preserve the best T & C’s for the workers.
The proposal for a stakeholder pension as opposed to the LGPS is also of concern. With more and more services being outsourced the long term viability of LGPS is threatened.
It is worth noting that the councils own policy for procurement encourages new employers to sign up to the modification orders to enable transferred staff to stay in the LGPS. It is the height of hypocrisy to expect other employers to carry the cost of LGPS whilst a proposed wholly owned company intend only to provide stakeholder pensions.
We further reject the promotion of a voluntary severance scheme ‘that is the only planned opportunity, during this budget round’ at the same time of proposing to make the service of those group of workers ‘an arm’s length’ company.
The Council has protected Social Care to a greater extent than other services in the face of very significant reductions. The Council acknowledges that there is a great deal of pressure on the system but believes that overall the Service is managing well. The Adult Social Care Company will result in lower terms and conditions that are currently provided for in direct Council provision but as highlighted in the budget report at a much higher level than the alternative of outsourcing. The Council does not accept the Trade Unions view that management have been encouraging our members to apply for VER/VS and write on their paperwork that they would be interested in returning as a re-employed person in the new company.
Extra Care Housing
The Extra Care Housing Service which sits within Adult Services was set up as a model service. It allowed vulnerable older people to have their own tenancy with the security of onsite social care support. The cost benefit analysis of such a wraparound service is indisputable and must have saved thousands if not millions of pounds over the years it has been in existence by preventing people going into long term residential care or hospital. It also facilitated immediate hospital discharge by having services on site. Over recent years the council has systematically eroded the gold standard service to such an extent that it is now no more than a ‘warden type’ service. The actual properties were allowed to be transferred to Bolton at Home when they should have remained in council control. In order to speed up the void period the allocations policy was modified and criteria loosened. The sleep-in service was withdrawn and at the same time rents increased.
The proposal to cease this service is a false economy and should be reconsidered as part of a long term plan to keep older people in their own homes and as far as able to remain semi-independent.
Race to the Bottom
The trades unions are of the view the report by the Chief Executive outlines a position which will drive down terms and conditions by stealth. The capita report makes reference to cutting overhead costs prior to outsourcing. It is noted that this race to the bottom will not be employed when seeking a new Chief Executive, Principle or Director to run the company.
The age old argument that you have to pay a high salary to get the best is an adage which has been lifted from the private sector to justify obscene high salaries for CEO and city workers. This myth was exposed during the crash of 2008 when CEO’s amassed personal wealth at the expense of ordinary workers who are still paying the price.
It is an insult to workers undertaking the most demanding of work in social care that those working in the proposed company can be paid the ‘living wage’ whilst senior managers in the council transformation team will be paid additional remuneration; retain their LGPS and other benefits.
The Council does not accept the view that the Council’s proposals will drive down terms and conditions by stealth. The Council has explicitly, unlike many council’s, rejected the proposition of a blanket reduction in terms and conditions of the workforce and see this as an important principle. Again the accusation that senior managers in the Council transformation team will be paid additional remuneration is unfounded.
Living Wage – Ethical Care Charter
Following a presentation by the trade unions to the SLJCC encouraging the adoption of the UNISON Ethical Care Charter it was stated that the charter would be considered during the next budget round.
We note with disappointment that there is no mention of the adoption of the Ethical Care Carter in the two year budget plan.
We note that other boroughs have not only become a Living Wage employer but have also signed up to the Ethical Care charter for their commissioned services.
The adoption of the Living wage would set the town’s agenda for acceptable wages and help regenerate the economy.
It is not appropriate for the Ethical Care Charter to be referred to in the budget strategy. The Council agreed to respond to the Trade Union’s request to consider the Ethical Care Charter in parallel to the budget process because the financial impact needed to be understood as affordability was a key consideration. The Council is in the process of preparing for the re-commissioning of the Home Care Service and is meeting with the Trade Unions to provide a response to this issue in the context of that process.
Further, the Council recognises the importance of demonstrating leadership of good quality terms and conditions and has made improvements to the bottom of the pay structure for the last two consecutive years, in order to pay our lowest paid staff at the highest affordable point in response to:
the Borough anti-poverty strategy
an aspiration to pay above the value of the National Minimum Wage
the nationally assessed value of the “Living Wage”
The Council now pays Grade 1 staff £7.88 per hour at grade maximum, which is above the current value of the national “Living Wage”
We further note with that given the Councils stated commitment to exploring the best available options for savings and the maintenance of services for the citizens of Bolton, that consideration does not appear to have been given to the opportunity to explore the establishment of a shared services for other services. Bury council are currently developing similar proposals to Bolton for their Adult Social care and we would urge the Council to also undertake an assessment of the opportunities that this might bring as a matter of urgency, with a view to putting any savings that might by achieved to avoiding the creation of a two tier workforce.
We are also of the view that a significant number of “back office”, professional and technical support services could be shared with other authorities e.g. legal, HR, finance, payroll etc. This would reduce what are currently very heavy overheads and ensure savings are directed in to front line service delivery.
The Council would be prepared to examine the possibility of further shared services activity but does not believe that a shared service for Adult Social Care is likely to produce savings of any significance because of the fixed costs of the service and the maintenance of staff ratios etc
Over the last few years Children’s Services have been eroded to the extent that the department’s focus is now largely statutory requirements. The proposals announced look to make further cuts to frontline preventative services. The council hope to make savings that include a significant reduction to Children’s Centres, Youth and Play services. These cuts will impact on sections to varying degrees, job losses in family support will leave workers across all sections feeling the burden, the impact on capacity across all levels of social care/work.
Workers are already feeling the strain and with the expectations of the statutory court timelines, further cuts, we fear, may tip the balance. Cuts threatened and if implemented create uncertainty within the workforce, with the additional workload this can only manifest into stress impacting on work and family life. Our concern for the children’s social care section, when our members are most vulnerable, pressure in their roles and stress factors rising could have serious professional implications, which within the public domain would become a professional assassination.
The Council will keep the impact of reductions in non-social care services in Children’s Services under review as it will be important to monitor the impact of this.
We understand that the joint working with Wigan in principle appeared an avenue that as a trade union we are happier to explore. We do need to understand the details of the proposals and await further detail. We would like to be involved at the earliest stages possible and understand our comrades unions in Wigan view is the same so we can work on shared principles, which will allow the process to move along much smoother.
The Council welcomes the commitment to work in partnership on the proposed Bolton and Wigan Environmental Services option
Not for profit Library service
We note the proposal for a “not-for-profit trust model” for the library service and the lack of detail. It is worth stating that the current service is ‘not for profit’. The council claims that the current network of libraries and museums will be retained, albeit with fewer workers. Regardless of the final proposals for a trust model, we believe that the savings required could not be made without job losses and cuts to terms and conditions.
The Council is not intending to propose reductions in terms and conditions in any exploration of a trust model which is more focussed on potential savings re buildings and financing costs
Loss of 200 jobs access Chief Executive cross sections.
Whilst it is easy to be distracted by the alternative delivery models, we cannot lose sight of the proposal to reduce this section of the workforce by 40%.We remain concerned about generic job descriptions and await the detailed proposals and wider implications.
On a local level it is not lost on the trade unions the gravity of the cuts the council has to make, but as previously mentioned we firmly believe that available reserves are used to protect and keep services in-house for as long as possible.
We note that alternative delivery models are being identified as a way in which the Council can grow and increase income, but do not accept that this could not be achieved through other means. The Council has the power to develop services for its community and voluntary sector in order to make a profit and grow business without having to give away in house services in the process. We do not believe that this has been given proper consideration.
The trade unions acknowledge the council’s proposals to implement the alternative service delivery options last, however it is a grave concern that the period in-between this time will be spend on reviews which ‘Lean up’ services to package them for the alternative delivery models and seeks some reassurances from the council that this in not their intention.
The sign of a good Society is one that protects its weakest. The strong can always look after themselves.
The Council can confirm that the approach to undertaking service reviews and achieving budget reductions is not part of a strategy to prepare the services for outsourcing