As Edinburgh fights to find £67 million in cuts on top of almost £200 million in recent years, UNISON’s Edinburgh Branch is calling on the Scottish Government to put cash in now ‘before local services disappear for ever’.
“All the salami slicing has now been done. Reorganisations, back office cuts that create more work and are false economies, and a wage freeze have delivered as much as they can and we are going to see frontline services disappearing never to return”, warned John Stevenson, UNISON Edinburgh branch president.
“Councils like Edinburgh cannot wait for a review of funding a year down the road. The Scottish Government must step in now before local government becomes unviable.”
UNISON has yet to consult on the detail of the budget cuts but it is warning that lessons from the past need to be learned. It understands that a neighbourhood system is envisaged with cuts at middle management level. This is deeply worrying in several services which are only able to carry on functioning because managers are covering for staff shortages and to manage huge workloads. The dangers of undermanaged services for staff and for service users have been writ large in Edinburgh before and in other authorities.
Aberdeen had a neighbourhood system that was roundly condemned in a child protection inspection. Edinburgh had a neighbourhood system a few years ago that cost £9 million and lost direct lines of accountability for social work which was also criticised in an inspection. Any new system must learn from these lessons.
UNISON will also be demanding that the council sticks to its no compulsory redundancy pledge.
“One of the biggest pressures faced by councils amidst the cuts is the growing need for social care and children’s services. These are all provided directly by people, many of whom are paid a pittance. Cut the people and you cut the services”, added UNISON’s Tom Connolly who is secretary for the staff side of all the council unions.
“Labour and the SNP have shown in Edinburgh that they can work together and we are calling on them to stand up for the services they were elected to protect”.