- 2016 National LGBT Conference
- 28 July 2016
Up and down the country health and social care service provision is once again metamorphosing. As features in the provider landscape rise and fall, there are winners and losers. The winners, whether from the statutory, private or community sectors, spread into new geographic territories, full of enthusiasm but frequently ignorant of the shape of local networks, initiatives, opportunities and relationships. And here lies a dangerous hole for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers and service users. The funding for our small local services is increasingly being siphoned away from direct Local Service Level Agreements towards these major bidders, who are then expected to then invest in the local diversity providers.
Tendering processes seem to be mostly following best practice, stating clearly from the Market Warmer to the Contract Development Workshops that people with protected characteristics must be invested in, declaring loudly about the scrutiny they will put in place, and doing everything they can prior to awarding the contract.
However, results are disappointing when it comes to translating the contract into the service. Companies are now trying to operate in new populations with staff sent from head office, or newly recruited, often from outside the area. Existing jobs and expertise, local knowledge and commitment are throttled as funds dry up. The contracts, despite their explicit intention to protect and support local diversity initiatives with direct investment, are being allowed to rescind on this vital and obligatory responsibility.
Without fast action to rectify this, our members in the community sector will drain away as our current broad base of LGBT providers are reduced to a handful of generic equality officers in a couple of dozen commercial businesses.
While we still have members in place, conference asks that the national LGBT committee:
1. Work with LAOS (Learning and Organising Services) to provide guidance that will inform and empower members working for LGBT services to seek consistent and effective scrutiny for LGBT investment in the contract monitoring of primary contract winners;
2. Open dialogue with the Community Sector Service Group Committee (and possibly other SOG (self organised group) committees) how to best support members working in the professions most at risk of cuts;
3. Seek to publicise these changes to the commissioning framework and the risks to jobs and terms and conditions.