UNISON Brighton and Hove branch have voiced their serious concern around the latest proposals to cut the number of beds within Hostel services by 20 and outsource the Homelessness/Hostels services. A recent report commissioned by UNISON with regard to the tendering process used by Brighton and Hove City Council raised a number of questions which have, so far gone unanswered by the Council. The Association of Public Service Excellence report evidenced a complete lack of transparency in the processes used when Learning Disability Accommodation Services were tendered for outsourcing and the union is now extremely concerned that the Council has failed to learn any lessons.
Branch Secretary, Sue Beatty said “Since providing both the Leader of the Council and the Chief Executive with a copy of the report we commissioned, we have been met by a wall of silence. It is extremely clear to us that the report highlights some quite severe failings on the part of the Council with regard to the outsourcing processes used and we are concerned that the same errors and mistakes are going to occur again with the tendering of the Homelessness/Hostels Service. These services are vital for the most vulnerable of our citizens living on the streets and in vulnerable accommodation and we want to ensure that any future services are provided under the right framework and by the right organisation! We can only assume that the deafening silence we have received from the Leader and Chief Executive is explained by their realisation of how wrong they got it last time and their hope that we will go away. We will not be going anywhere until this situation is discussed openly to ensure the same mistakes are not repeated”
Rail guards on strike today were shocked to hear that Brighton and Hove council are trying to cut the pay of nursery workers. They were keen to share their support for Unison and GMB members resisting pay cuts on their picket line at Brighton station on Tuesday.
In these times when all workers are under attack, both Unison members and RMT members were proud to stand together. Shoulder to shoulder.
As we have reported earlier, Unison is supporting council nursery workers who have all been told that they face cuts of up to £8,000 a year as well as longer shifts. In addition to this, council management wanted to bring forward the planned reduction in pay protection so that these staff would have only a year to adjust their family budgets instead of three. (In reality, such a pay cut could still drive some mature and experienced staff out of childcare).
Unions have now secured the agreement of the council to stick to their original pledge to protect pay for 3 years as part of the current consultation. It was acknowledged by Human Resources that there had been a lack of clarity between the unions and the council around staff involved in these consultations at the time of the new Pay Protection policy being negotiated.
B&HCC Unison will continue to stand by and support its members in nurseries who want to stop the cuts to their pay and their terms and conditions of employment. Sue Beatty, Branch Secretary, has already stated “UNISON will fight to ensure our members’ livelihood and working conditions. We call upon council officers and elected members to seriously reconsider these proposals.
Launch of Brighton People’s Assembly: Voluntary Sector Charter: Wed 5th October 6 – 7.30pm at Brighthelm, North Rd, Brighton
All welcome! Speakers! Food! Refreshments! Workshop! Discussion!
AGAINST austerity, privatisation and marketisation. FOR independent action, advocacy and campaigning.
LACK OF SCRUTINY, LACK OF TRANSPARENCY, LACK OF A FAIR ECONOMIC PLAN FOR DISABLED PEOPLE
A report into Learning Disability Accommodation Services in Brighton and Hove has heavily criticised the council’s decision to privatise the service. APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) was commissioned by the biggest public sector trade union, UNISON, to provide an analysis of the decision and subsequent procurement process. This came after the union locally had repeatedly requested to meet with the authority from early June, which is yet to happen.
Sue Beatty, Branch Secretary of Brighton & Hove UNISON said: “UNISON has raised concerns directly with the council regarding the procurement process and has requested all relevant documentation, some of which has not been supplied due to apparent ‘confidentiality.’
APSE, a local government body which works with over 300 councils throughout the UK and is the foremost specialist in local authority front line services, found that:-
- The evidence, a “commissioning review” in June 2014 which underpins the first key decision to cease provision by the council has not been published or otherwise made available
- A further 3 day review in October 2014 has not been made public
- As a purely cost-driven exercise, elected members were not given any indication of how the position might have changed subsequently with the imminent introduction of the National Living Wage and the auto-pension enrolment
- No other options apart from open contracting out were presented to the elected members, in an apparent breach of statutory requirements and to the detriment of future service provision
- The decision to cease in-house provision was made before consultation was carried out and consultees were actively prevented from expressing a preference for this option, therefore effectively having no consultation on this key decision.
- It is a fundamental requirement of the public procurement legal regime that contracting is conducted in an open and transparent manner. In this case it is confusing and opaque.
- It is also a legal requirement that contract notices are published on the UK government website, Contracts Finder, which APSE was unable to find. This is a serious breach, opening up the prospect of a judicial challenge from anyone who felt they were deprived of an opportunity to submit a bid
Sue Beatty said: “UNISON Brighton & Hove Branch is calling for a halt to what is clearly a worryingly shoddy process that affects the most vulnerable residents located in 12 homes across the city. APSE, an independent well-respected expert body, has concluded that the non-disclosure of key documents and the narrowing down of the consultation exercise casts doubt on the robustness of the decision-making process. UNISON has asked for the Policy and Resources Committee to be recalled, by writing directly to the Authority, councillors and the city’s three MPs, as it is imperative that any decision for the future of this service is based on proper scrutiny, transparency and a fair economic plan.”
The full APSE report is available here to download or view: apse-report-ldas
Four nights accommodation and surf lessons for four!
October offers some of the best conditions for surfing. In conjunction with Walking On Waves, Unison’s Croyde Bay holiday park is proud to announce its latest competition, to win a surfing holiday for four!
Simply answer the question: “Which ex-European Surf champion runs the Surf School at Croyde Bay Holiday Resort?”
For more details go to http://www.booking.com/hotel/gb/croyde-bay-resort-croyde5.en-gb.htmlaid=330843;sid=669d3793693a45b31b7a4a12d131a667;dcid=1;dist=0&sb_price_type=total&type=total&