Axe falls on nearly 200 jobs at Birmingham old people's homes
Almost 200 men and women running Birmingham City Council’s old people’s homes are to be made redundant.
Council leaders admit that the decision is a sign of things to come, as the impact of a social services modernisation programme becomes clear.
In total, more than 300 staff have been put under warning of possible redundancy following decisions to replace all of the council’s homes for elderly people with a mixture of sheltered accommodation and independent sector provision and to shut two day centres.
Some 180 employees will definitely go this summer, saving £4.8 million a year. The council is warning that phase two of the home closures will result in “significant” redundancy costs and is asking the government for an emergency funding package to meet the £2.9 million cost of the initial tranche of redundancies.
Adults and Communities Director Peter Hay said the cash was needed to avoid paying for the redundancy programme through an “abrupt withdrawal” of money from front line services.
He hoped the job losses could be delivered voluntarily, but would not rule out compulsory redundancies.
Deputy Labour group leader Ian Ward called the development “very worrying”.
Coun Ward (Lab Shard End) said compulsory redundancies would be in breach of the Single Status agreement between the council and the unions.
He added: “Under Single Status there is something called the employee bargain, which was a pledge to keep people in work if they were prepared to move to different jobs within the council. How does this fit in with the employee bargain?”
In a cabinet report, Mr Hay praised the threatened staff who he said had demonstrated “considerable dedication and professionalism” in ensuring a high level of care continued to be given to the residents, service users and their families.
Almost 160 employees at risk of redundancy have been transferred to other posts in the council.
Last night, Mr Hay confirmed that 133 care staff and 47 catering and domestic staff at the old people’s homes would lose their jobs.
He added: “The closure order of our remaining homes is currently out to consultation and we estimate that staff working in these homes will continue to be employed for up to a further five years.
“Staff were given statutory notices of potential redundancy in January and June. These redundancies are likely to take effect by mid July 2009.
“A full support programme has been developed for staff and there has been consultation with unions throughout.”
Mr Hay insisted that many other councils were in the same position as Birmingham, responding to a shift away from traditional local authority institutional care for older people toward provision by the private and independent sectors.
He said: “We are not acting in isolation on this issue, this is part of a national trend towards greater personalisation of services.
“The social care workforce is actually growing, at a rate of eight per cent nationally. Of this, the number of staff working in local government has decreased from 228,000 to 221,000. The number of staff working in the independent sector has increased from 998,000 to 1.07 million.”