- 2010 Local Government Service Group Conference
- 18 February 2010
- Carried as Amended
This Conference notes the increase in local public services integration and ‘joined up’ service delivery within the UK nations. While we support initiatives that genuinely enhance the quality of local services and provide them in a more integrated and efficient way, we believe that initiatives such as ‘Total Place’ should be under local democratic control and contain measures to protect our members’ jobs and pay and conditions and promote equality and human rights within employment and services.
There is cross-party support for the 13 ‘official’ Total Place pilots in England, and unofficial initiatives supported by Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships (RIEPs). In Scotland, the Clyde Valley Review is following similar principles of service integration, as is a project in Powys, Wales.
Total Place has become a major focus for the development of proposals to integrate services to achieve savings, and is increasingly being taken up by Local Strategic Partnerships. The ideas underpinning this initiative were set out in the report “Whole Systems Go” written by academics from the Warwick Institute of Governance and Public Management and centre on identifying “efficiencies” (ie. cuts) from the better management of public spending which is currently spread across a number of agencies. Conference deplores the absence of meaningful consultation with trade unions at a national level in connection with the development of Total Place. Conference further deplores the fact that one of the key aims of Total Place is to; “deliver early savings to validate the work.” Conference rejects the suggestion that any worthwhile project to improve public services should be required to deliver savings in order to be valid and reaffirms the opposition of our Service Group to reductions in local government spending.
This Conference believes that, to work effectively, the movement towards integrated service delivery must contain measures to protect and develop the workforce and involve users, the workforce and trade unions in service design, and be under the oversight of locally elected representatives. It must also ensure that:
1)The responsibility for services is not devolved to unelected bodies
2)There is adequate funding
3)Service integration is not used as an excuse for outsourcing
4)There is full UNISON involvement in any process of change and that we work closely with other unions involved in service integration initiatives
5)Robust and meaningful equality impact assessments take place, in terms of staff and services, and that equality and human rights are at the heart of service integration.
6)Clear arrangements exist for workforce protections where integration takes place, including measures to ensure ‘levelling up’ of pay and conditions and secondments where appropriate
7)Active attention is given to overcoming ‘cultural’ differences between services
Conference further believes that the principles underpinning Total Place will affect almost all local public services, and therefore almost all sections of UNISON. This means that Service Groups need to work more closely together at UK, Regional and branch level. National and regional service groups also need to work with self organised and young members groups, and urge their branches to do the same, to ensure the needs and concerns of all affected groups are built into UNISON’s response.
Conference believes that it would be naive to suppose that, in the current climate, Total Place will be anything other than a cost-saving initiative which risks the jobs of public servants and that the cross-sectoral nature of this challenge will require co-ordination across the entire trade union movement at a local level. Conference believes that Trades Councils are the appropriate bodies to oversee such coordination.
This Conference therefore calls on the Local Government Service Group Executive to:
a)Campaign for UNISON to be involved in local government service improvement initiatives in councils, regional bodies and at national level in all four UK administrations
b)Campaign to protect jobs, pay and conditions affected by service delivery changes, with a minimum of no compulsory redundancies
c)Maximise the use of equality and human rights legislation to ensure that our members rights to equal pay and non-discrimination are enforced within integrated services and that those services meet the needs and respect the human rights of all sections of the UK population
d)Support local government branches affected by service integration, and work with other Service Groups to develop guidance to protect terms and conditions of members and service delivery
e)Work with UNISON’s Regions to develop organising initiatives which ensure maximum density, effective forms of organisation and adequate representation for our members affected
f)Work with UNISON’s Regions and other Service Groups to develop protocols for responding to cross-service group changes
g)To seek immediate direct dialogue with the Welsh First Minister and the Minister responsible for Local Government in an attempt to inject some urgency into the ‘Making the Connections’ policy, of building a strong and collaborative “public servant” workforce, through direct intervention in those Local Authorities which have thus far offered little other than intransigence and ignorance
h)Highlight the importance of trade union and user involvement in the design and delivery of better local services
i)Work with service users and other community groups to ensure that integration meets local needs
j)Promote public-public cooperation as an alternative to outsourcing
k)Call upon branches to affiliate to local trades councils, or to establish these where they are absent and to work, through the trades council, with all other local trade union branches likely to be affected by T