DATE: 28 July 2008
Edinburgh Children's Social Work risks meltdown - UNISON
UNISON has called an emergency meeting of Edinburgh Children
& Families Social Work staff for Monday 28 July to respond to
re-organisations and cuts which the union says could mean 'meltdown'
for the service.
Following cuts in the 'Working Together' service, a new consultation
would see a cut of up to 50% in the number of key front-line
team leaders responsible for child protection and 'looked after'
children, and reductions in managers who oversee and supervise
"These front-line staff are the people who have held the service
together for years, often despite the Council, and certainly
without the resources to do the job. Without them, the service
could face meltdown. All of the progress made since the O'Brien
Inquiry is at risk from these plans", warned Tom Connolly, UNISON
Edinburgh Branch Service Conditions Officer.
In addition, UNISON understands there is not enough money in
the budget to cover the existing 143 front-line Social Workers
who carry almost 4,000 child protection, looked after children
and children in need cases.
"It looks like the Council has told the public it is putting
more resources in, while in reality it hasn't backed it up with
"On top of this two recent inspections point to not enough
cases being allocated and not enough resources to protect children.
Instead of addressing the resources, the Council is increasing
demands on staff. Many of our members feel things are getting
worse than they have ever been and more risky than they have
"The inspections criticised a lack of early intervention,
so, astonishingly, the Council cut the early intervention services
in Working Together. The Council's response is totally divorced
from the reality on the ground. They are just not listening
- again", added Mr Connolly.
Three years ago, the Council had a guideline of 19 children
per Social Worker. The Council then acted on recommendations
following the Victoria Climbie Inquiry and promised to reduce
the workload to 14 children.
"The reality is that, since then, caseloads have gone up with
staff carrying well over 20 cases. Now they want them to carry
even more. The Council seems determined not to learn from inquiries
or inspections and that beggars belief", added Agnes Petkevicius,
UNISON's Edinburgh Branch Secretary.
UNISON will consult its members on Monday on a formal response
and has not ruled out industrial action to protect them from
the dangers of unmanageable caseloads in such high risk work.