UNISON, the City Councils largest trade union is calling upon Councillors to reject the Connecting Communities proposal before them on 23rd February that will see £5,000,000 of savings over two phases.
Consultation responses received by the authority have overwhelmingly rejected the proposal that would see the Council reduce or cease service provision. The Cabinet are being asked to commit to a shot in the dark proposal (Phase 2) that could compromise all elements of the Councils people directorate at a time when the general perception of citizens is that “the Council should continue to provide and do”. *1
Dawn Palmer-Ward, Corporate Representative for UNISON said
“Phase 1 will have a detrimental effect upon many service users and the staff that we represent in order to save just over £1million.
Councillors will be committing today to a further £3.5 million without a clear explanation of which services will be effected and how.
We have written to each Councillor ( *2) to ask them to fight with UNISON to protect the principle of publicly provided services, delivered locally by the City Council, through a broad coalition of local authorities challenging government austerity cuts”
*1 Connecting Communities – Phase 1 Outcome of Consultation 23 February 2016 *2 UNISON letter to councillors (below)
UNISON Coventry City Branch Tel: 024 76521123
22 February 2016
RE: Budget Setting and Connecting Communities
You may have read recently that UNISON Coventry City branch is advocating a no-cuts legal budget. We are asking that you as a member of Labour Group consider this by using reserves to fund services.
We welcome the fact that as a Labour Group you have looked at technical savings and prudential borrowing to help to secure some services. As a trade union we have advocated this position regarding technical savings for some time and we believe that it offers an opportunity to address some of the Central Government’s attacks on Local Government funding in the short term. However, we realise that it does not solve the issue of the increasingly hostile attacks on our services from Central Government.
As a trade union we are keen to work with Labour councillors in campaigning for a better and fairer funding settlement for us in Coventry and would welcome closer working to try and save directly delivered services to the citizens of Coventry. We believe in quality public services delivered in house to local residents not outsourced with poor provision.
We would also request that you consider carefully the Connecting Communities proposal. UNISON is concerned about the lack of clarity within the proposals and the idea that some of our services can somehow be delivered to the same standard by volunteers. Or that the services simply will not be delivered at all. There is a budget line attached to that of some £3.5m which you are being asked to approve without a clear explanation of what services will be cut and how the citizens of Coventry will be affected.
UNISON believes that as the decision makers you should be provided with full clarity about the proposal and the options open to you to take. We would ask that you do not vote this through with a heavy heart and no understanding of the ramifications of the proposal but rather you seek further clarity and vote in the full knowledge of the cuts that it will inevitably mean.
There has been approximately 500 responses to the Connecting Communities proposal yet we are aware that you have been provided with a summary of themes which still state that the public would prefer that their services are delivered locally by the City Council. We would ask that you consider this response when deciding how to vote tomorrow.
Additionally you may not be aware that the council still has many of the agreed cuts to make with headlines such as workforce strategy, with the implied cuts to terms and conditions, not even broached yet alone having started meaningful negotiations on the issue.
We would also urge you to consider joining with other local Labour Authorities in calling for a co- ordinated response to the cuts with a view to seeking ways to publicise the damage Conservative policies have done and will continue to do in respect of funding cuts and also to develop a coherent strategy to resist them. We acknowledge that one Local Authority cannot change the direction of the cuts but that a broader coalition of local authorities would make a stronger case than one alone.
We welcome the Labour Party’s anti-austerity stance and believe that now is the time for change and for making that case. Please consider joining with us to call for a fairer settlement for those most in need.