Response to Council Budget Proposals 2015-18

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Given the extent of the restructuring and the job losses which will be required to achieve the budget reductions we are particularly keen to ensure that fair corporately controlled recruitment policies and practices are put in place, we would ask that Councillors in agreement with the final Council budget include this requirement.

Template 23; Council Reshape, Management Reductions – This proposal re-organises the entire Council and affects every single member of staff. We broadly support the changes suggested as they are fit for the challenges of the current “national Local Government agenda” and they break down the false barriers that have hindered efficient service delivery since the CCT legislation of the 1990’s. The savings report endorses the current matching policy which is not fit for purpose, UNISON has forwarded suggestions to the Chief Executive which revise the Matching Policy and would be acceptable.

Template 6; Leisure & Sport, Charitable Trust – We are concerned that a 2 tier service will develop that could disadvantage both staff and service users in those services that are provided out-with Dumfries and Stranraer. We support all ideas to protect jobs but would require robust service level agreements and organisational support, including stakeholder participation at board level to be in place before any Trust was established. A single region-wide trust would be an option.

Template 8; PES Service Reviews, Further Staffing Reductions – The 2016/17 savings options are totally unacceptable. These cuts will impact on this service’s ability to function, the workload demanded will not be achieved, immediately affecting the disabled and negatively impacting on ecomomic growth in the Region, particularly large capital projects. The remaining staff will be under pressure and likely will suffer stress and ill health. We cautioned in the last budget against the negative implications on staff and these have now occurred.

Template 15; Primary/Secondary School Delivery – The service reviews for these savings has not been completed. UNISON will participate in the service reviews to support staff through these cuts proposals.

Templates 17,18,19 & 20; Social Services – Any cuts to social services budgets given the demographics in this Region raises concerns. Template 19 suggests using specialist home care providers, any profit they take is an effective waste of resources. These proposals need to be carefully considered.

UNISON is disappointed that no local politicians have campaigned for a review of the Council Tax freeze and re-evaluation of the bands. This area has the lowest Council Tax on mainland Scotland, the Scottish Government does not reimburse the lost revenue and places restrictions on their funding grant. At the same time our population is getting older and more vulnerable. Staffing levels to support services are at breaking point and services across the board are suffering.

Councillors and national Politicians need to stand up, to oppose austerity and support local services and local jobs. Across Scotland core infrastructure is collapsing, preventative work is abandoned, service cuts impact on the most vulnerable, corners are being cut and staff are stressed and off work ill. This needs to change.

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