UNISON CITY OF EDINBURGH BRANCH
THE CITY OF EDINBURGH COUNCIL,
DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
RESPONSE TO ORGANISATIONAL REVIEW
- MARCH 2008
- UNISON City of Edinburgh Branch is the largest
union representing staff (except teachers)
in the Children and Families Department. The
Branch welcomes the opportunity to respond
to the Department's consultation paper on
the Organisational Review.
- UNISON expressed major concerns about the
creation of a Children & Families Department,
especially in relation to the lack of structures
for professional lines of accountability (especially
in child protection services and services
for vulnerable adults). UNISON therefore welcomes
the identification of this problem and many
of the measures to address it laid out in
- However, UNISON was supportive of the integration
agenda at local level and is concerned at
the proposed break up of the neighbourhood
systems that deliver this.
- UNISON is disappointed that a major driving
factor for the organisational review is financial
rather than organisational. The union does
not believe that an exercise so strongly driven
by the need to make cuts can arrive at best
considered decisions about service delivery
and meeting the needs of children and families.
- UNISON does not believe that the cuts arise
from 'over-spending'. It believes that the
issue is one of 'under-budgeting' for the
three main reasons below:-
- Existing expenditure (especially in terms
of care placements and so-called 'section
spend') reflecting the real cost of providing
essential social services to children and
- The effect of inspections and inquiries
in exposing the long term chronic underfunding
of children's social work services.
- A failure to match the political drive
for neighbourhood service-delivery with
the funds to make it effective. While the
consultation paper refers to an 'expensive'
management structure with more managers
than other authorities, it does not make
the link with the increased management requirements
of neighbourhood based delivery, management
and integration of services.
- UNISON believes there is a major conflict
between the aims outlined in the consultation
and the proposed changes to the extent that
the laudable words in the aims are misleading
and have little chance in reality of being
achieved. We cite some examples below:-
- Strengthen devolved management and empower
staff at all levels: Co-ordinate and
strengthen our neighbourhood arrangements:
Create more integrated services… It
is very difficult to see how this can be achieved
when the plan is to remove the very management
structures at neighbourhood level that can
deliver this. The loss of School Service Managers,
the reduction in CLD, Early Years and Working
Together management and the dismantling of
neighbourhood management structures takes
away the very infrastructure that can create
devolved management and integrated decision
making at local level.
- Reduce bureaucracy and micro management:
There is nothing in the consultation that
evidences how this will be done. On the contrary,
especially in Working Together services, the
consultation misunderstands the operational
and service delivery role of front line managers.
UNISON believes the whole consultation tends
to display a misunderstanding of management
and service delivery roles at the front line
and at neighbourhood level.
- The consultation mentions 'invaluable
early intervention yet it seeks to cut
the key early intervention service provided
by Working Together, Early Years and Community
Learning and Development.
- Schools: A perception of 'over-management'
is reported from schools. UNISON members have
questioned whether this may refer less to
over management and more to increased managerial
demands on schools to play a stronger role
in integrated working. No real evidence is
presented for the 'over-managed' perception.
- Early Years: The reduction in management
and the removal of key neighbourhood links
will undermine the close co-operation and
need for integrated working between early
years and targeted services. This is another
area where the focus on early intervention
is undermined by the actual plans.
- Community Learning and Development: The
comparatively major cuts in the CLD service
attack the basic principles listed under the
'Aims' section. Building community capacity,
universal early intervention services for
young people and the essential services to
adults so that they can contribute to the
wellbeing of children are all essential to
delivering the Department's aims. It is UNISON's
view that lessons from 'Communities that Care'
are being ignored and that these cuts will
have a wide-ranging effect on all of the preventative
strategies of the council.
Although no specific cuts are mentioned in
relation to Arts, Sport and International
work, cuts in service are a fact on the ground.
This section mentions a curriculum for excellence,
achievement and personal and social development
yet this key area and the wider key role of
CLD in delivering this is ignored.
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. It is surprising 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
- Services for vulnerable children: Working
Together: The cuts in Working Together
are totally at odds with the stated value
given to early intervention and the Scottish
Government long term strategy.
The Senior posts in Working Together provide
direct services to children and the key role
in Pupil Support Group structures as well
as the essential consultation and supervision
role of supporting other front-line staff.
As such they are not merely 'management' posts.
In the case of Working Together Managers,
it was well accepted before the creation of
the new department that the Working Together
service was considerably under-managed. A
return to that situation would be a regressive
- Planning etc: UNISON is seriously
concerned about the possible effects of the
loss of specific posts providing child protection
training, lifelong learning and the consumer
involvement role for example. The dilution
of the latter role in terms of the stated
aim to 'engage children, young people and
families' in the development of services is
These are key areas in the child protection
action plan and the dilution of these
services will be picked up at re-inspection.
Our members could do without the further blow
of a poor follow-up report at a time when
they have put enormous efforts into the improvement
Fairness and transparency
- Employment issues: UNISON is very concerned
about the apparent process of identifying deleted
posts and functions. From the information we
have so far, duties are not being totally deleted
but are being assimilated into the duties of
We have had no opportunity to review job descriptions
or detailed structures and we believe that throughout
the process there has been totally inadequate
consideration given to pools of staff affected
and the ring-fencing of posts to be assimilated.
The absence of any detailed information on how
duties will be allocated makes it impossible
to assess the fairness of some of the decisions
and leads to a suspicion that people rather
than functions are being singled out in some
In terms of 'central' services and the School
Service Manager/QIO roles, UNISON is disturbed
that there has been thus far no willingness
to address functions across the range of staff
affected and no detail about the changes in
job descriptions. As such it is impossible to
assess the fairness of decisions.
In terms of Working Together and CLD posts,
UNISON will need to be assured that there is
an honest acceptance that all of the services
provided before the review cannot be provided
after it with the reduction in resources. UNISON
will not accept increased pressures on its members
to cover up the effect of cuts.
UNISON is aware of the difficult financial
situation facing the Department due to political
decisions. We are disappointed that the Council
has chosen to 'spin'serious service and job
cuts as 'investment and improvement' which does
not match the reality faced by many staff.
This difference of understanding, experience
and knowledge of the 'real world' of pressures
on services and staff, between those delivering
the service and those strategically managing
it is written large throughout this process.
The conflict between the aims and objectives
and cuts in the very areas that would deliver
on these is stark. The expectations placed on
staff often do not reflect a clear understanding
of the day to day issues facing them
This has a major effect on staff morale. UNISON
believes it was a significant issue in the HMIE
and SWIA inspections and will figure again in
follow-ups unless real efforts are made to listen
to front-line staff.
It should not surprise the Department that the
effect on staff morale is significant and many
people who have put enormous efforts into delivering
services (sometimes against the odds) are left
feeling - despite the assurances in the consultation
- that they are not valued.
UNISON urges the Department and the Council
- Reconsider and reject cuts to front line
services and to the support systems needed
to back them up
- Enter open negotiations regarding job descriptions,
staff allocations and job matching
- Take measures to communicate at Council
and Scottish Government level the real cost
of providing the standard of essential services
society expects for vulnerable children.
20 March 2008
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