Social Workers Overwhelmingly Oppose the Government’s Social Work Reform Plans

A major UNISON survey of 2,858 social workers has revealed that they reject key aspects of the Government’s proposals to reform the sector.

In August and September UNISON social worker members in England were asked tohand-cut-outs complete a survey which asked for their views on the government’s reform proposals contained in their Children and Social Work Bill.

The findings have now been published in this report.

The headline results are:

  • Just 1% of social workers believe that the proposals put forward by the government will address the main concerns that they are facing.
  • Just 10% of social workers think local authorities should be able to exempt themselves from children’s social care legislation, which the government believes will allow for social workers to achieve better outcomes for service users.
  • 69% of social workers believe that allowing local authorities to exempt themselves from children’s social care legislation will lead to more children being placed at risk. Only 8% of social workers believe that it won’t lead to more children being placed at risk.
  • 90% of social workers believe that they should be regulated by an independent body rather than directly by the government.
  • 96% of social workers believe that private companies should not be allowed to take over the running of social work functions from local authorities. Only 1% said they trust the not to privatise social work services.

These findings represent an overwhelming rejection of the government’s proposals.

The Government has already indicated that it will no longer require social workers (adults, children’s and mental health) to be directly regulated by them but it is still pressing ahead with the other controversial aspects of the Bill.

The Bill is being debated by the House of Lords on Tuesday the 8th of November but will be debated by the House of Commons in the coming weeks. Please encourage your members contact your local MP and ask them to speak out about the dangerous aspects of the Government’s Children and Social Work Bill.

Instead ask them to call upon the Government to:

  • The Bill is being debated by the House of Lords on Tuesday the 8th of November but will be debated by the House of Commons in the coming weeks. Please encourage your members contact your local MP and ask them to speak out about the dangerous aspects of the Government’s Children and Social Work Bill.
  • The Government has already indicated that it will no longer require social workers (adults, children’s and mental health) to be directly regulated by them but it is still pressing ahead with the other controversial aspects of the Bill.
  • Abandon the dangerous and controversial elements of the Bill which allow local authorities to exempt themselves from important statutory duties towards children.
  • Agree to meet with a range of frontline social workers and their representative bodies to properly discuss how the challenges facing social work can be overcome.
  • Listen to the views of looked-after children, their families and supporters to learn about their experience of social services and related support.
  • Invest more resources into supporting social work services across England.
  • Ensure that social workers continue to be regulated independently.

 

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Exit Payments in the Public Sector

As part of its attack on public sector workers, the government has introduced a setpublic-secotr of changes to exit payments (including redundancy payments) in the public sector – each set of proposals goes further than the last. All fly in the face of local, and even national, collective agreements, some agreed at the highest levels of government. Some of the proposals will mean re-opening regulations on pension entitlements, breaching the commitment not to alter public sector pensions for 25 years.

UNISON have produced a document which outlines the proposed changes and what they mean for members’ terms and conditions of service. You can view the document here.

 

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UNISON Additional 2017/18 Pay Claim Update

A meeting of local government representatives from across UNISON (the NJC) met yesterday to consider the results of the UNISON consultation over the additional pay claim for 2017-2018. The consultation arose from Emergency Composite A, carried at 2016 Local Government Conference earlier this year:

“To submit an NJC Pay Claim for 2017/18 and to commence the process of consulting with branches and members on the composition of this claim after the Conference”.

The NJC Committee considered the composite at its meeting in August and decided to consult branches over a claim for a flat rate increase of £1 an hour on all NJC pay points. The UNISON consultation ended on 7 October.

GMB and Unite did not support the submission of an additional claim.

Results of UNISON consultation

50% of branches responded to the consultation, broadly in line with previous consultations over a proposed pay claim. 73% supported the NJC Committee’s proposed claim and 26% rejected it – a much higher proportion than in previous years. In 2016 3% rejected the proposed claim and 1% in 2015.

Local Government Association (LGA) responds

The Committee noted the results of the consultation and agreed to submit the claim immediately to the LGA. The claim was submitted on 13 October.

The LGA’s response received it on 14 October, and can be viewed here. As you will see, the employers have rejected the claim because:

“The Employers are very clearly of the view that the NJC reached, in good faith, an agreement on pay on 16 May 2016 that covers the period to 31 March 2018”

The campaign for a fair deal in 2018 and funding for the pay spine review begins now!

The NJC Committee agreed that all our efforts now need to go into campaigning for a positive outcome from the review of the pay spine and a decent offer in 2018. A further 1% pay offer for the majority in 2018/19 would not be acceptable. The Committee also felt that the review of the NJC pay spine, agreed as part of the 2016-2018 settlement, needs additional funding to ensure an outcome which is fair to all and tackles inequality in pay within the public sector. NJC pay is the lowest in the public sector, from the bottom to the top of the pay spine.

It was therefore agreed to start a campaign of political lobbying, which will call on branches and Regions to lobby councillors and MP’s for a fairer deal for school and council workers and for funding of the review of the pay spine. The union will also work to establish groups of parliamentary advocates within the English, Welsh and Northern Ireland parliaments to speak out for council and school workers and commission research to support a better deal for NJC workers in future.

 

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Employment Law and Brexit

hammerThe government have released a House of Commons briefing which outlines what the implications might be for employment law following Brexit. You can view the document here.: brexit-employment-law-briefing

Some EU rights – like Equal Pay – have direct effect, meaning that individuals can rely directly on EU law. Leaving the EU would effectively cancel such rights.

Another area of concern are ruling made in the European Court of Justice. These again can be relied on by workers in this country to enforce workers’ rights. Once we leave the EU employers will potentially be able to re-litigate decisions that did not go in their favour and try and change the case law.

The government is going to introduce a Great Repeal Bill next year which will bridge Brexit and, they claim, amalgamate EU and British law. It worth having a read of Theresa May’s Tory party conference speech extract on page 6 where she unambiguously says existing workers’ legal rights will continue to be guaranteed in law, but checks this with “as long as I am Prime Minister.”

 

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Universal Credit and Implications for Housing Benefit Staff

On 20 July 2016 the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions made a Ministerial Statement on the future of Universal Credit.

The government is delaying some aspects of the rollout.

First, the pace of the rollout of the digital service – the software that enables everyone to go onto Universal Credit not just single people – has been slowed.

The digital service will now be rolled out at a rate of 5 jobcentres a month until June 2017. It will then rollout at 30 jobcentres a month from July 2017, rising to 55 jobcentres a month from October to December 2017, rising to 65 jobcentres a month from February 2018 and to the last 57 jobcentres in September 2018.

Second, the managed migration of the existing caseload will now not start until July 2019.

The government has decided that the managed migration of existing housing benefit claims will not start until July 2019 and will finish in March 2022. This means that local authorities will continue to administer the existing housing benefit caseload for working age applicants until at least July 2019.

An earlier Ministerial statement stated:

8. Phase three will consist of managed migrations where existing claimants whose circumstances have not changed will be transferred, starting in autumn 2014 to end 2017. The Department is working on the approach as to how this phase will be ordered; with the expectation to start with households with people that are in part time work or that are economically inactive.

It is remarkable that the managed migration will now not start until July 2019 – at least two years after it was originally planned to finish – at the end of 2017.

Third, the incorporation of housing benefit for pensioners into pension credit will not take place until after the completion of the Universal Credit rollout, i.e. after March 2022.

This means that local authorities will continue to administer the existing housing benefit caseload for pensioner applicants until at least March 2022.

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NPC Report for 2016

Branch retired members Verena Beane, Sue Clark, Rochana Lowton and Allen Hawley attended as delegates the NPC Pensioners Parliament at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool on 14-16 June 2016.

Click here to read their comprehensive report of the conference.

 Ret mem at NPC

 

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Kensington and Chelsea Branch Meeting, 18 July 2016-07-18

Speaker: Roger McKenzie Assistant General Secretary at UNISON

The referendum has resulted in an increase in racist abuse. Some people where taken in byRoger the rhetoric that divides people, saying some of us are better than others and life would be better without those kinds of people around. Even some people from black community have been heard saying things against Eastern Europeans. It has made for a poisonous atmosphere.

The message has been there’s no point standing together -it’s everyone for themselves.

Many UNISON members working in the UK who originating from the EU report feeling unwelcome in the UK now. “Why do they want us to go?” they ask.

170,000 people join UNISON year.

60% of those who join UNISON come from the private sector. Recognition is difficult in this sector because many private sectors employers are hostile and the only thing we can do it go in on the back of the member’s right to be accompanied. This does not give the union the means to negotiate or consult on pay and conditions with the employer.

On the other side, lots of people have been leaving UNISON because they are made redundant or have had enough of working in public service. Higher workloads caused by fewer staff compounded by continuous job uncertainly and near zero pay increases have all contributed towards poor morale and staff leaving.

Gateshead UNISON says that they now have more staff who want to go on redundancy than there are jobs being made redundant

High levels of Privatisation in the Home Office is a warning that the new prime minister will be pursuing the privatising agenda.

Roger will be doing a number of road shows supporting EU members in the workplaces across the UK Joint Council for Welfare of Immigrants. The trade union movement will have to support those under attack.

Now is the time to get the message across to the politicians processing leaving Europe; that we value other EU nationals working in the UK and that we want to retain our employment rights.

UNISON needs to be well organised on the ground with reps to assist members and recruit.

We have shown that we can fight anti-union legislation, managing to stop the removal of DOCAS by the Trade Union Bill. However history tells us that the government will come back for more.

Working people may have their disagreements but we need to stick together. Need to build together and build the movement for working people.

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