Where you work - Children & Young People

UNISON has 800 members covering all social work posts and children’s residential and respite homes. Our members include multi-agency support workers, educational welfare officers, youth offending services and lifelong learning and skills. The service is undergoing a significant re-structure and we are campaigning to maintain jobs and levels of service to vulnerable young people and families.

We are very keen to recruit new stewards and warmly welcome members who are prepared to benefit from UNISON’s Stewards’ training course and become active in our day to day work protecting jobs, services, pay and conditions.

Latest news

Restructure updates (08/08/11)

Unison met with MAST management on 27th July. This is to update you on the meeting
VER/VS - the restructure MER document originally identified 16.9 posts would be lost. the VER/VS exercise has identified 17 people from a variety of posts for release, whilst this would appear to resolve some of the  concerns staff may have about their future employment, work is still required to assess the impact. Management did not support a number of applications as had to be conscious that they did not let more people go than required, those people have been put on a reserve list and we have requested that they be considered for release at a later date if there is a surplus of people to jobs.

Verification of staff details - this process is still ongoing. We have asked for an updated list of all job grouped that management believes will be eligible to go for the identified posts in the restructure, and the numbers of substantive post holders in each job group. We need this information to see how the numbers balance up and where there may be potential staff surpluses. If there are more jobs than employees then this could avoid the need for recruitment processes.

Potential new funding - apparently the government has opened up the opportunity for some specific grants, particularly around child poverty, and other funding streams which management are exploring. if funding is available this may provide the opportunity to look at a number of posts being added to the service, although for how long is still unclear.

Focus group feedback - management fed back that they had found the process very useful and positive. Unison fed in members concerns regarding training and attendance, stating that referral routes is still a major concern for members. management need to provided clarity to give confidence and reassurance, because  whilst schools may carry more responsibility the fear is that some children may be missed

Grading panels - the grading of the JD's is a contentious issue. The grading panel took place with no Unison involvement despite requests to cancel it due to our identified panellist having a personal issue. Apparently the grading panel approved the grades for the posts with the exception of the Intervention Officer post which was deferred and is still awaiting allocation.

JD's - these will be on the agenda for the meeting on 24th August. Members need to look closely at the proposed JD's and feedback comments/concerns  We are aware that the legal aspects of the intervention worker role is a concern, therefore we requested detailed information on the number of cases fixed penalties and aggravated cases the council has had in the past year.

Flexible working - management has received several requests from staff wanting to work flexibly. If you are interested in doing so you need to apply.

Transitional arrangements  - UNISON reiterated the requirement for realistic timescale to be put into place for transition to the new way of working. Management acknowledged this and confirmed that whilst staff would be identified in a job group, some may continue doing more of their current roles for a period of time.


Unison are still awaiting proposals on phase 2 of the YOS/Youth Service restructure. We have not even been involved in any preliminary discussions on the proposals, which is something of a surprise given that  the phase 1 restructuring of management  was finalised some time ago. 


There are numerous negotiations that are ongoing that are the source of great anxiety for the staff involved. Unison has and will continue to consult fully with members involved in these changes.

News digest (16/06/2011)

BUDGET CUT IMPLICATIONS – There are likely to be significant implications for all services and all employees as a result of the Council’s budget cuts. This is just the first year of the intended 4 years of savage cuts. The service has only just started on implementing its planned cuts for year 1 and there is already talk of starting the process of looking at what can be cut in year 2.

A number of Achieving Change and Managing Employee Reduction proposals have been submitted and some are more advanced than others.

Given the volume of change, there is understandably a lot of anxiety amongst the workforce; this situation tends to lead to rumour and speculation which only serves to heighten fears, this is why it is important to see management’s formal proposals before making a judgement. Once proposals are received UNISON will meet with affected members in order top formulate a response.

There are 2 major service restructures in the offing:-

MAST RESTRUCTURE UNISON has attended a couple of meetings with senior managers within MAST regarding their plans to do a major restructure of the service. Specific proposals and how they will affect staff were not disclosed at the meeting but it was suggested that the employer will move to a new set of generic roles in the future. The change process will be conducted under the formal “management of employee reductions” policy, so we can reasonably assume that the proposals will include fewer jobs in the new structure. Although at this stage we have not been provided with details of the total number of jobs, the numbers of jobs in each grade and the rates of pay.
There will be a further meeting towards the end of May at which we anticipate receiving more details on the actual proposals. We will arrange a UNISON meeting  so we can discuss the formal proposals with you and agree our response. We will contact you with details as soon as we have anything more substantial to discuss.

YOS/YOUTH SERVICE RESTRUCTURE – Part one of the restructure of these services, the senior management restructure, took longer than anticipated but is now close to being finalised. Proposals for the second stage of the restructure, which will affect the majority of staff, may be some weeks away yet, not only because of the delayed implementation of phase one, but also because of the Service Managers move to an alternative post.
There is a lack of clarity at this time as to who will have lead managerial responsibility for overseeing phase two of the restructure, including the development of proposals and leading on the negotiations for management. We will provide an update on any progress as and when it happens and UNISON will arrange consultation meetings with members when management’s proposals are received.

Social Care Newsletter - May 2011

Up Close and Personal – UNISON’s e-newsletter on Personalisation in social care
Welcome to UNISON’s personalisation E-news, keeping you up to date with the latest policy and campaign developments, branch experience and activist news on personalisation in social care.

Issue 4 , May 2011
UNISON Personalisation campaign update - Personalisation for all?
The main threats to the provision of local, quality personalised social care are the devastating social care budget cuts that we have witnessed over the last year. Despite the government claiming to have provided an (un-ring) fenced extra £2 billion for local social care services, there is little evidence that this is being used to protect front line care services or jobs.

UNISON branches, care shop stewards, activists and organisers have been campaigning to protect care jobs and front line services in this harsh economic climate.

Not only have eligibility criteria been tightened, but 88% of councils are increasing their charges, 63% are closing care homes and day centres and 54% are cutting funding to the voluntary sector (Emily Thornberry MP Shadow minister for Social Care).

The question many people are asking is, Will people holding personal budgets now begin to see them being slashed and to what extent will this discredit the personalisation drive?

UNISON believes that personalisation based on choice, dignity and independence in choosing care provision needs to be available for all. Care on the cheap will not work and the government needs to fully address the future funding of social care, to protect the future of personalisation.

We have recently written to all local authority councillors with responsibilities for adult social care and Directors of adult social care services, enclosing a copy of the UNISON branch Personalisation toolkit and a copy of our DVD Privatising home care – stories from Norfolk.

We have asked Councillors and Directors to work with our branches in partnership at a local level to meet the growing demand for a well qualified care workforce. Copies of the letters were sent to branches along with copies of the toolkit.

Hot topic – UNISON Branch Personalisation Toolkit
To help build our campaign for quality personalised social care we have produced a branch Personalisation Toolkit. We hope the toolkit will assist branches in helping to fight frontline cuts in care services, remodel and organise the care workforce locally and establish UNISON's presence and representation in this important sector.

For further information, to stock or download the toolkit go to the UNISON Personalisation website http://www.unison.org.uk/localgov/pages_view.asp?did=12774

If you require further assistance with the Toolkit or would like to organise a regional training event for care stewards on how to use it, please contact Allison Roche a.roche@unison.co.uk

Next e–news Hot Topic
The next Personalisation newsletter will be focussed on the report of the Dilnot Commission. The report is expected in July and will be setting out recommendations to the government on the future funding of social care (England). We will be assessing how these recommendations will affect service delivery and the workforce in England and look at the direction of travel in the devolved regions of Wales, Scotland and N.Ireland.

Branch focus - Organising and helping Personal Assistants (PAs)
UNISON has produced a new leaflet “Rights at work for Personal Assistants”. The leaflet is a new branch resource available to assist branches seeking to recruit or advise PAs. PAs are employed by individual service users who have a direct payment for their social care needs. The leaflet sets out some key information on rights at work, and promotes UNISON’s agenda in this area. It is for Personal Assistants but will also be useful to people who are thinking about employing someone in this role.

Branches can order copies via the UNISON website or by emailing stockorders@unison.co.uk and quoting the stock number 2959, quantities and delivery address. It can also be downloaded at www.unison.org.uk/acrobat/19887.pdf
“How to support carers working for people on direct payments” by UNISON member Linda Baharier

How do you hire staff? What is your liability to them? How do you pay them?
Social Services often just sends you a list of agencies for staff and the same agencies for your payroll. For most people requiring care this is how they end up basically handing a large proportion of the money over to private agencies as they have no idea how to manage all this. I believe that as a union, UNISON should set up a co-operative to handle this for these people and to look after the staff involved.
For my own Mother this was our experience:
Agency Staff
We looked into this and firstly, you pay the agency a lot more than the staff will actually receive in pay (carers are often paid minimum wages, currently £5.93, increasing to the 2011 rate of £6.08 an hour; yet the care providers can charge around £16.00 for an hour of care). Secondly, they could not ensure that we would always get the same people, it would be whoever was available, neither could times be guaranteed.
Payment of Staff
The Agency would handle that but not only were they earning a large margin on the hourly rate you paid them for staff, you also pay them an admin charge for running your payroll!
Because my Mother had me (I do some private accounting work from home which includes running payrolls) and we had no wish to see a private company profit from care workers we decided to do it for ourselves. This way we would have more control over who was coming and when.
This involved finding staff. This can be done in several ways:
• Voluntary and charity groups such as Age UK (formerly Age Concern) - your local office may have a list of vetted carers.
• Your local church/Synagogue/Mosque or elderly persons social club.
• See if there is a Carers help or support group in your area. We have the East Surrey Carers Association and they help too.
• If you live in a small community (we are in a village) even word of mouth and personal recommendation works.
So we found our staff - remember you may need not only regular, but also stand-ins, in case of sickness and/ or holidays. Though they had done caring before, none of them had undertaken courses on things like lifting etc. I arranged for this and paid for it myself, as no money is provided for training in the care package. If you cannot do this out of your own pocket this is why you really need those “extra” respite hours.
They were also amazed when I offered them union membership. They were not aware they could even belong to a union, let alone which one. This means there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of potential UNISON members out there. I also explained their rights, holiday and sick pay etc. This was a surprise to some who had not always been entitled to this through their agency work because of the contracts they were on.
This annoyed my Mother who felt that tax/rate payers money was being used by agencies to “exploit” the workers & not always give good care to those in receipt of the package. I found that the whole process for an elderly, disabled or sick person can be a nightmare of bureaucracy to try and get the help they need and deserve.
I really do feel that as a union, UNISON should look at providing a central officer to help Regions organise PAs or run our own co-operatives to employ care staff and payroll providers on a non profit basis.
Since our own ethos as a union is for the care of the people and staff and not for profit, I do believe that we should become involved.
By Linda Baharier

Branch focus - Organising and helping Personal Assistants (PAs)
Linda raises some important points that UNISON has addressed in its Personalisation agenda. The Personalisation toolkit addresses some of these issues for branches to consider with examples of how to map, organise and represent PAs. In addition:
• UNISON has produced a new leaflet “Rights at work for Personal Assistants”. The leaflet is a new branch resource available to assist branches seeking to recruit or advise PAs. PAs are employed by individual service users who have a direct payment for their social care needs. The leaflet sets out some key information on rights at work, and promotes UNISON’s agenda in this area. It is for Personal Assistants but will also be useful to people who are thinking about employing someone in this role.

Branches can order copies via the UNISON website or by emailing stockorders@unison.co.uk and quoting the stock number 2959, quantities and delivery address. It can also be downloaded at www.unison.org.uk/acrobat/19887.pdf
• We have received funding for an exciting opportunity for a Campaign Organiser to work within UNISON to bring Personal Assistants (PA’s) together to articulate their collective needs as direct employees of personal care users and as union members. The intention is that the Project will enable UNISON to respond more effectively to a unique and growing occupational group, which is becoming increasingly central to the delivery of personal care as cuts bite and local authorities look for cheaper options than traditional homecare services. In recent times a significant number of PA’s have joined UNISON on-line. We want to explore the potential for UNISON to organise effectively throughout the PA workforce, based on the experience of this project.

News items
Lessons from Birmingham: Victory for Social Care Judicial Review
In a landmark Judicial Review in the High Court on 20th April, the Conservative-led Birmingham City Council was found to have acted unlawfully with regard to their plans for social care. The Judicial Review was launched after the Council outlined massive cuts to social care which will see nearly 10,000 people across Birmingham have their care downgraded, with 4,100 people losing their care packages altogether.

The High Court found that the Council had failed to take account of provisions in the Disability Discrimination Act when they decided to stop providing care packages for adults whose needs are assessed as being substantial. This means that the council cannot carry on with assessing individual needs. The Council is likely to have to conduct fresh consultation on equalities issues before reaching a new decision on the future of social care. This could take several months.

The council had approved social care budget cuts of £51 million in 2011/2012, rising to £118.2 million in 2014/2015 which included the decision to revise their eligibility criteria:
“Currently, the portfolio meets needs that are defined as critical and substantial. Under the new criteria, substantial needs would no longer be met by the Council and this is expected to affect the services provided to some 4,100 citizens who will be signposted to other services over the next two years as social work assessments are undertaken.”

The branch and UNISON West Midlands believe that this is a landmark ruling and a tremendous victory for thousands of vulnerable people across Birmingham who rely upon social care provision. It has now been vindicated that the council did not listen to the concerns of service users and providers or social care workers across Birmingham who have been telling UNISON over the last few months that they are genuinely frightened by the proposal to so severely axe social care provision. They have been telling us that vulnerable people will simply be left to fend for themselves.

The Council now has the opportunity to pause, think again and work with us to maintain quality social care provision for the people of Birmingham. (For further details contact Birmingham UNISON Assistant Branch Secretary Caroline Johnson caroline.johnson@birminghamunison.co.uk )

UNISON will be seeking to identify further cuts which might be challenged.

Adult Social workers reject social work mutual
Social care is widely seen as the most obvious starting point for expanding the use of mutuals in local government but last week Norfolk County Council was forced to pull out of plans to run one of the Department of Health’s adult social work practice pilots due to staff concerns.

Jonathan Dunning branch secretary of UNISON, said adult social work teams had turned down the opportunity to take part in the pilot despite the Department of Health (DH) giving the green light to the management bid.

“It was seen as quite a risk to take up, and I don’t think they were convinced that it would improve the services that residents received,” he said. Staff had legitimate concerns over setting up a business and the risks and liabilities of becoming co-owners with pay and pension liabilities. Also there was only a limited guarantee of being able to return to your original post with the council after 2 years.

The council was proposing to test a social work practice in one of its integrated care pilot teams, working alongside primary care and community health services. Given the current proposed changes in the Health and Social Care Bill and pension reforms members were given UNISON guidance on being part of a social enterprise or mutual.

UNISON also advises members to consider how personalisation of care with the increased use of Direct Payments may also impact on the setting up of proposed mutuals and social enterprises to deliver care services.

UNISONs guidance on social work practices, mutuals and social enterprise can be found on the UNISON website:
10 reasons UNISON opposes private social work practices http://www.unison.org.uk/acrobat/B5322.pdf
Questions to ask about mutual’s: http://www.unison.org.uk/acrobat/B5326.pdf
Questions to ask about social enterprises: http://www.unison.org.uk/file/A4920.pdf
Social enterprises in primary care : http://www.unison.org.uk/acrobat/A11536.pdf
New Community Care web service for UNISON members
UNISON has teamed up with Community Care, the expert social care publishers, to create the UNISON Workplace Zone where you can find:
• all the latest news from Community Care and UNISON
• features and advice on key topics affecting you at work
• our UNISON shop steward’s blog
• UNISON Talk: your chance to talk online with other UNISON people about what’s on your mind
• offers and discounts for UNISON members
Coming soon on the Workplace Zone: the results of our annual joint survey on personalisation
Go to http://www.communitycare.co.uk/unison/ to find out more. Your member discount code is “UNISON”

Getting Personal at the UNIZONE Local Government conference 2011
We will be hosting a Personalisation section at the UNIZONE this year at the Local Government Conference on Sunday 19th June. The government has sent a message to local authorities in England informing them that Direct Payments are the preferred way to provide personalised budgets. UNISON would like to know how many authorities are still offering care recipients the choice of having either a:
• Personal Budget in terms of direct care service provision (no cash)
• Direct Payment (cash only to arrange their own care or given to agency budget holder
• Mixture of above with services provided and cash
Call in and let us know what type of choices in care budgets your authority offers its care recipients.

If you have any news items, suggestions for hot topics or would like to make a branch focus contribution for inclusion in the next issue contact Allison Roche at a.roche@unison.co.uk

UNISON, UNISON Centre,130 Euston Road, London NW1 2AY Tel: 0845 355 0845 Web: www.unison.org.uk

Trade Union and Professional Associations for Social Workers (3/06/2011)

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