UNISON Budget Suggestions

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In view of ongoing budget cuts within the Council, UNISON have been engaging with both the Council and the Councillors to bring forward our own list of money-saving or income-generating suggestions. We are fully committed to minimizing the negative impacts of this current austerity on employees. We appreciate the contribution of our members to some of these suggestions.

  1. Blue Badge Dumfries & Galloway Council have the power to charge up to £20 for the issue of a Blue Badge (parking badge) but at the present this remains free for applicants. With around 3000 badges being issued each year by the council, this could potentially generate some much-needed revenue for the council.
  2. Manage Major Events – £250k pa. The events supported in this strategy are for the majority all profit making before any public funding is provided. Many of the events companies are from out the region and the events themselves tend to be ring-fenced for businesses from outwith the region. Any events strategy needs to be managed more.
  3. Roadworks Charge the utility companies for digging up roads and fine them for not properly relaying them after the work has been completed. Income generated would be based on how many roads are dug up.
  4. Business Rates Double the business rates for empty units that have been empty for over 12mths. The empty units at the Midsteeple are all owned by large insurance companies who own them for tax write off purposes.
  5. Pest Control and Dog Warden Service Discussions with the staff directly involved in delivering this service provision have identified that within current budgets and given a more commercial direction, the existing staff resources could be restructured to be more efficient, effective and encourage a higher income level than that previously achieved.
  6. Parking Charges; Charges could be introduced for on-street and off-street parking. We understand that previous Council papers have indicated generating income of over £1 million.
  7. Area Committee Discretionary Grant Funding; Reduce this by 100% saving about £1 million.
  8. ERVS If it is extended and there is clear guidance on service priorities, possible savings in excess of £1 million could be made.
  9. Gull Control Project; Introduce a charge to householders. Income in excess of £35k.
  10. Third Sector Grant Funding; Consider areas of duplication of funding from both the Council and external partners. Possible savings in excess of £200k.
  11. Leisure & Sport; Consider all options to generate savings and avoid compulsory redundancies. Possible savings in excess of £1 million & opportunities for income generation.
  12. Fees & Charges; Review these across all Departments to maximise income by, increasing to full cost recover or reduce others to increase use of facilities generating more income as appropriate.
  13. HR Policy & Procedures; Improve training to ensure consistent and efficient staffing practices. To add to already identified attendance maximisation savings and workplace efficiency.
  14. Consultancy Fees; Remove consultancy fees to the minimum possible. Saving £1mil
  15. Review payments to external organisations, commissions, grants, events; to avoid duplication or unnecessary service delivery.
  16. Pool cars; Review the cost and efficiency of the current provision.
  17. Redeployment income-generating opportunities The redeployment pool staff could be seconded to other organisations in the third or independent sectors thereby replacing the grants being awarded to these groups. This would help the Council engage with local Community groups and provide job enrichment and experience to the redeployed staff.
  18. Sale of Property Assets The Council’s properties are being sold off without any considered commercial review of the potential to add value ie with planning permissions.
  19. Service Reviews The ongoing reviews are being conducted at the same time, however separately, as the re-shaping of the Council and the ERVS campaign. This leaves the outcomes difficult to understand and implement.
  20. Review of PPI contracts Our recommendation would be for the Council to review the existing contracts and consider whether the public is receiving best value. For example, Hexam Hospital PPI contract was bought out with funds from Northumbria Council loaned to Northumbria NHS. This saved £3mil a year to taxpayers
  21. Returning the provision of Social Care – at present the Council underwrites all external contracts with Social Care Providers including all the non-profitable rural contracts. The Council commissions these services for twice the cost these providers actually pays their staff. Where is the rest of the money going? We believe taxpayers, the Council, the staff and the service users would benefit from taking back the Social Care inhouse and create considerable savings.

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UNISON represents over 1.25 million members - working in schools, hospitals, local councils, probation, care work, police staff, emergency services, utilities, transport and public services across the UK. Join us today. join.unison.org.uk/

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PRESS RELEASE: Public services short-changed by MacKay Today's budget falls short of the commitment to our public workers and services that we demanded at our rally today. After today's budget Derek MacKay can expect to see a sustained campaign from public workers to begin restoring livelihoods. The issue of public sector pay will not disappear. Whilst worker pressure has already achieved some incremental increase from the UK’s austerity approach, it is not acceptable that so many public service workers, including teachers, fire fighters and many nurses, should face further pay cuts. We recognise that the Finance Secretary has a difficult job in protecting Scotland’s budget against UK austerity. The smug self-satisfaction of the Scottish Tories belies the havoc that their government is wreaking on public services across the UK. However the SNP made several ambitious manifesto commitments and says it wants to do right by public workers. So now was the time to be bold. Scottish workers have made their demands clear, and dialogue between the STUC and Derek MacKay has emphasised the urgency of a real-terms pay rise for all public workers. Every public worker in Scotland deserves a pay-rise at inflation-level or above. This means that the Finance Secretary has to be clear he is funding every area of public sector provision to ensure this can be delivered. We will be looking particularly closely at the detail of the budget, but are disappointed in the real terms cuts in resource funding for local government. Whilst its good that the debate on tax has finally begun, the STUC is disappointed that the Scottish Government has not used their powers to make a significant commitment to public service investment and public worker pay. £20 a week additional tax for someone earning £2000 a week is simply too little when public services are at breaking point. To find more resources the Finance Secretary could have abandoned the Small Business Bonus scheme which drains the economy of £200 million a year with no evidence that it is the best way to invest in local economies. If it is to exist, it must focus on creating jobs that pay at least the Living Wage. Public workers will now be seriously doubting this government’s commitment to our services.

Today the Scottish Government set their budget which will dedicate what money the public sector has within Scotland . UNISON has made it clear that there should be no more cuts !!!

Unison has also made it clear that the public sector pay cap must go and that work must be done to compensate workers for their loss of wages over the last seven years !!!

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Launched"Guarding Against Stress"toolkit at stress seminar #UNISONvStress #nationalstressawarenessday Get copy here: ow.ly/qUa430gunU0