UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Challenging Council redundancies‏

Many UNISON local government branches find themselves immersed in redundancy consultation as Councils come to terms with the severe spending settlement for local government. The upping by 40% of the LGA job loss forecast for 2011/12 to 140,000 is indicative of the immediate, front loaded impact of the cuts (27% over 4 years but 11% in the first year).

Well intentioned rhetoric about ‘needs based’ or ‘place based’ budgets will make little headway in securing the jobs of UNISON members placed ‘at risk’ of redundancy. One useful but under utilised bargaining point for branch negotiators conducting redundancy consultation is to argue for a review of fees and charges levied by the local authority.

Mo Baines of Apse writing on Public Finance blog states that ‘during times of financial austerity in local government, we have tended to focus only on reducing costs. Income generation is usually not considered to be part of the first response. But it can be a way of spreading the burden of public sector spending cuts without penalising those least able to pay’.  http://opinion.publicfinance.co.uk/2010/11/fully-charged-by-mo-baines/

Baines goes on to say that ‘Councils should certainly not introduce ruthless reviews of fees or charges that could see prices disproportionately hiked for service users. But there are some services that could be provided on a charged-for basis to ‘mop up’ capacity that might otherwise be lost…., examples include councils carrying out tree inspections for insurance purposes, charging for dropped kerbs to private households, and working with housing developers providing advice on a range of areas such as street lighting.

In other areas, council vehicle maintenance specialists have helped private mini-bus operators carry out disabled passenger adaptations and some councils charge out expensive plant and equipment to neighbouring authorities helping to offset their own capital outlay on machinery.’