‘Take profit out of care – not carers out of councils’ and defend local democracy, says UNISON

Tracey Dalling, head of UNISON Scotland, the largest union in Scottish local government has called on councillors to defend local democracy and oppose the transfer of powers away from local councils proposed in the National Care Service Bill going through Scottish Parliament.

The call comes in a letter sent by the head of Scotland’s biggest trade union to every councillor in Scotland. The email details some of the proposals in the Bill which will see responsibility to provide care and social work services transferred from local councils to Scottish Government quangos, a move that could see 75000 staff have their jobs transferred to new employers or opened up to competitive tendering.

In the letter Ms Dalling says: “It is time to take the profit out of care, not services from councils. Care should be delivered in and for the community. We believe that is what most people want and expect from a National Care Service.

We are asking you to stand up for publicly run and delivered social services, and against this attack on local democracy. UNISON members in your Council will be campaigning for social care and social work to be publicly run and delivered local services. We hope they can count on your support. “

Commenting on the letter Ms Dalling, UNISON’s Scottish secretary said: “This is a massive attack on local authorities as a tier of government. Legal responsibilities are being removed from councils and services put into commissioning and competitive tendering exercises. This weakens accountability for service users. And instead of being able to go to a councillor about services people will have to apply to a complaints process as they do with an energy company.

The Bill is an outsourcers charter. The Scottish Government claim for the National Care Service is that who owns and provides services doesn’t matter – that public private or third sector are all equally capable and worthwhile. These are vital services supporting some of the most vulerable people in Scotland. They need to be publicly run and democratically accountable. Is this an attitude they intend to apply to other public services such as education, health or water?”

UNISON is the union for local government, social care and social work. We are the largest union in UK/Scotland and also represent public services workers education, health, police staff, energy and utilities.

Read letter to councillors here

• Responsibility for provision of vital services will be stripped from Councils and centralised with the Scottish Government : National Care Service Bill, see Sections 27, 30 & 46 are about transferring statutory control over social care and social work to Scottish ministers

• The number of boards and their members will be decided by the Scottish Government, after the bill has passed. See National Care Service Bill Policy Memorandum para 63 The Bill sets out a framework for how the new bodies will be constituted, and how they will operate and deliver services. Further detail will be set out in secondary legislation and Ministerial directions

• Statutory responsibility for social care and social work are to be removed from your Council : National Care Service Bill Part 1, Chapter 6 ( “gives the Scottish Ministers powers to transfer relevant functions from local authorities or from health boards (relevant local authority functions are those covering social work and social care for adults and children, including local authorities’ role in mental health care and adult and child protection, and justice social work) National Care Service Bill, Policy memorandum para 4 )

• There will be a complaints process Bill Ch 3 sections 14 & 15, NB “The Scottish Ministers need not provide the service directly, they may fulfil the duty by contracting another person to provide the service” (explanatory notes para 36)

• The financial memorandum for the Bill includes estimates for all social care and social work staff to transfer that’s ~75 000 people. See National Care Service Bill Financial Memorandum Para 50 & Table 7

UNISON Contacts
Danny Phillips: 07944 664110