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Date: 19 February 2008


UNISON, the union representing over 9,000 members delivering in the City of Edinburgh Council and the voluntary sector, is warning that front line provision for the most vulnerable will face a crisis if the council votes through huge cuts at its meeting on 21 February.

City of Edinburgh UNISON leaders will set out this warning at the Council Meeting on 21 February while a delegation of members who are off-shift or taking flexitime will demonstrate in Parliament Square from 09.15.

"Councillors really cannot get away with the pretence that front-line services will not be affected. It is clear that jobs will be lost in the Council and in the Voluntary Sector - jobs that deliver front-line services", said Agnes Petkevicius, the union's newly elected Edinburgh Branch Secretary.

"In addition, it is hard to see how compulsory redundancies will be avoided both in the Council and in some of the cash-starved voluntary sector providers if cuts of this magnitude go ahead", she added.

UNISON is also warning that many of the cuts are buried deep inside 'vague and generalised' reports to councillors.

"Behind the spin, there are a series of stealth cuts over the next few years which will hit the under-fives, the elderly, disabled and communities across the city. Some of these cuts strike at the fundamental basis of service provision and some services may never recover", warned UNISON negotiator John Ross.

UNISON singles out three main areas where people will be affected:-

Early Years: Cutting back on full-day early years places. These places exist to serve the children in most need. "At a time when the whole Scottish Government agenda is to focus on early intervention and preventative services, these cuts make no sense at all", said Agnes Petkevicius, UNISON's Branch Secretary and also a qualified nursery nurse.

Health & Social Care: Care at home restricted to 'critical' hospital discharge cases only. Only one hot meal a day for clients. Increased charges. Shopping service cut. More 'conveyor belt' short 30 minute and 15 minute home care services. A rundown in home care with cuts of up to £6 million.

"Home care cuts hit at the most vulnerable. The quality of service and the essential personal touch is being undermined. But even more frightening is that a council report which accepts that need for services is rising, also sets out plans to cut the service by over £6 million in the next few years. No matter how the Council dresses this up, these are real cuts that will affect real people at the very time when this service needs investment", said UNISON's John Ross.

Community learning and youth services: "Cuts in Community Learning are set to hit at the very fabric of Edinburgh's proud history in lifelong learning and building better and safer communities. Cuts in working together support for schools will reduce the ability to help children at an early stage and avoid problems in the future. It beggars belief that these cuts are being made when all over the country the focus is on early intervention rather than waiting to sweep up the problems in the future", added John Ross.

"There is a lot of talk about 'overspending' when much of the problem is 'under-budgeting' for the real cost of services like child protection which have come home to roost after years of neglect.

"A job lost in the council or the voluntary sector is a service lost. It is time now for the Council to be honest about services, honest about the cuts it is really making and make a robust case to the Scottish Government for the real funding needed to provide essential services

"UNISON will back the council in making that case but we will also stand by our members and take whatever action is needed to protect them and - because they have demanded it - to protect the front-line services they provide", added Mr Ross.


Further Information John Ross, UNISON Service Conditions Convenor 0131 220 5655, 0781 549 1559 John Stevenson, Branch President 07876 795 018




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