Monday, 25 February 2013

UNISON Vice Convener Stephen Smellie on the challenges facing local government

25 February 2013

UNISON's Vice Convener Stephen Smellie has told Holyrood Magazine about the challenges facing local government and the 'people services' it provides.

In an interview published today, Stephen highlighted how local government is taking the brunt of the cuts, how the council tax freeze leaves those worst off still paying, and about how staff fear for their jobs.

He also hit out against benefit cuts and, in particular, the bedroom tax, warning that it has not been thought through.

Stephen said: “There’s a big promotion to boost the numbers of foster carers in council areas. But if you are a foster carer, you might have a spare bedroom because kids come and go, and if you are on housing benefit, all of a sudden you are under occupied.

"Also you have informal carers, grandparents, for example, who have a spare room because their grandchildren come and stay. But under these measures, those grandparents might not be able to keep that room.

"There are a whole number of consequences which we’re left trying to support people through. In that example, kids might be taken into care instead of going to stay with a grandparent for a few nights. It is one of the consequences which haven’t been thought through.

"We’ve raised it and others in social work have raised it but there’re no answers.

“The welfare state is becoming meaner on a number of levels. Local government picks up a lot of that, we pick up through social work or housing or education. All the time this is happening, our resources and pay are being cut.”

See the full interview here


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