Contracts and retenders

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2017 Community Service Group Conference
11 November 2016

Conference notes that increasing cuts to local authority budgets and dwindling funding sources has led to contracts and retenders becoming increasingly competitive. More and more often the community sector has to compete with private companies. Contracts and future funding are being cut to the bone but the work required is being increased and the demand for services is at an all-time high. Often there is not even enough money in these contracts to pay more than the minimum wage and some contracts are not economically viable resulting in forced redundancies, reduced staffing and the reduction of hours for existing workers.

Conference notes that this can have a serious impact on the wellbeing and safety of workers in the community sector. Due to the nature of the work, some of our members who work out in the community are required to carry out lone working. For example face to face time with a customer may be 5 hours for 7 customers for a worker who works 37 hours a week. With reduced hours and staffing levels, this does not allow for safe working practices, sufficient travelling time, supervision time, recording and liaising with other agencies.

Many employees are impacted on, but disabled employees are at a distinct disadvantage. For many, their reasonable adjustments are not implemented fully, immediately putting them at a disadvantage.

Risk Assessments are routinely overlooked, for instance employees with mobility issues are being scheduled to work with clients in blocks without lift access and are having to carrying equipment between properties. Their travel times between client visits are also being ignored and the reporting and contact systems are not up to standard. We understand that some Health and Safety matters can be compromised in relation to contract costs.

Conference notes that when cuts to staffing occur because of pressures to fulfil contracts and hours with customers disabled members are an easy target, and can be put on performance plans and dismissed, or made redundant.

Conference therefore calls on the Community Service Group Executive to work with the National Disabled Members Committee to:

1) develop a campaign to raise public awareness of the essential work carried out by our members within the Community sector and highlight the poor funding going into this sector.

2)circulate to branches in the community sector guidance on disability discrimination in the workplace and unfair selection for redundancy on the grounds of disability

3)circulate to branches in the community sector good practice including on equality within the contract and retendering process