• Staff are under enormous pressure to deliver a high quality service with increasing demand and fewer resources.
• Budgets have been cut leading to job losses in registrars departments
• Delays have a serious impact on services users causing distress at a difficult time and delaying access to, for example, child benefit and organising funerals
• Job cuts in local government have led to registrars departments taking on wider customer service and other administrative roles
• Legislative changes have increased workloads for registrars departments
• These pressures are leading to long waiting times for service users.
This survey is part of our Damage series looking at the impact of austerity on public services and those who deliver them.
UNISON Scotland conducted a survey of members working as registrars/ in registration department in January 2016. Our survey shows that austerity is making life very difficult for our members in this sector and those who are legally required to use the service.
Registrars provide a service for people at high pressure points in their life: a new child, marriage, citizenship and bereavement. The service is a gateway to a range of benefits, tax credits and services. Delays can cause financial hardship and stress. People deserve a quality customer service. These processes cannot be rushed, they need to be handled sensitively and accurately.
Most indicated that their team budget had been cut. When asked about budgets over the past 5 years, over 50% believed that budget cuts had been very severe, another quarter said the budget had been cut and 20% that budgets had stayed about the same over the same period. When asked specifically about their budget in the last year, 37% percent felt their team budget had experienced severe cuts and 37% said their team budget had been cut, with 25% saying their team budget had stayed the same.
Respondents added that, while budgets had been cut and jobs lost, work had not disappeared and had in fact grown over the period. This was having a serious impact on the service they were able to provide to the public. In some areas people have to wait for as long as two hours to register a death.
Most respondents indicated that teams have lost two or three members of staff. These are small teams, so while we are not seeing job cuts in the numbers which generate headlines, it is clear that teams are struggling to meet demand.
Respondents also stated that their workload had also increased because of legislative changes and the introduction of new services.