Direct Payments

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2004 Local Government Service Group Conference
1 March 2004

We recognise the introduction of Direct Payments could have a significant impact on UNISON members employed in local authorities. Direct Payments are where social work departments are required to offer payment to allow for purchase of private services, as an alternative to direct services. This could involve loss of jobs, changes to terms and conditions and pressure to adopt 24/7 working practises. Whilst UNISON is committed to providing quality services, including on a 24/7 basis, this can only be achieved through a well trained, qualified and fairly paid workforce. The needs of service users can best be met in this way. However, the transfer of funding from council services via Direct Payments threatens this provision of quality services.

We believe that services provided through Direct Payments should be subject to the same levels of inspection, regulations and registration as local authority services. Only through this will the needs of service users in relation to their care be ensured.

UNISON should target for recruitment the people employed by service users as Personal Assistants. A strategy needs developed to properly represent these members. However this should include:

1)Seek to ensure that service users considering DP be fully advised of their responsibility as an employer including the recognition of trade union rights

2)Demand that local authorities recognise the importance of establishing effective methods of monitoring employment relationships with the Direct Payments and accept their ultimate responsibility as employer where this relationship breaks down.

Submitted by Scottish Local Government Committee