Date: Wednesday 10 June 2015
UNISON has called for the immediate release of all Ernst & Young documentation relating to the future of social care and education in Clackmannanshire and Stirling Councils.
In particular, UNISON demand the release of a report - by accountants Ernst and Young, commissioned by Stirling and Clackmannanshire councils - which was supposed to be a balanced investigation into the business case for the two councils to share services.
It was proposed that the report would take seven weeks, but it has taken over 30 weeks thus far and has been in the hands of senior council officers of both councils for well over a month.
UNISON believes this is an excessive amount of time to make this report public.
Trade unions, staff and many of the elected members are now asking how objective this report is going to be. The longer it drags on the more suspicious and uneasy the staff are becoming about potential decisions being taken behind closed doors.
Stirling and Clackmannanshire councils have spent in excess of £70,000 engaging Ernst and Young – one of the UK's big four accountancy firms - in an attempt to find a way to make their Shared Service program work.
They propose to run Clackmannanshire schools from Stirling council, and Stirling social work services from Clackmannanshire.
This external consultant was supposed to provide a speedy conclusion and ensure they applied the correct level of objectivity to the process.
Pam Robertson, UNISON secretary for Clackmannanshire branch, said:
“We can’t allow the councils to get this wrong. All of the services that we provide are vital for the people of Clackmannanshire, none more so than the education of our children and the care of the most vulnerable in society. These are the services at risk here. The rationale in moving further forwards with shared services is based upon information that the councils and consultants have produced so far, but the limited information that we have been allowed to see has been flawed; it’s not about service improvements but simple cost cutting.”
Lorraine Thomson, UNISON Secretary for Stirling local government branch, said:
“This is a piece of work that has cost the tax payer over £70,000 for a consultancy firm to come in and pick the brains of the staff who already deliver the service.We want to discuss how we can improve all of our services by working together. In this case we just want to make sure that when councillors are presented with the final proposal that they don’t make a bad decision based on flawed and incomplete information. That is in the best interests of not only our members, but of service users which in this case means the young and the vulnerable. This is something that the politicians cannot get wrong and we will move heaven and earth to ensure that they don’t”
David O’Connor, UNISON Regional Organiser said:
"It is always worrying when you find out that the only company that bid for a job got it. This leaves us questioning the procurement practices that allowed for this. This process has been ongoing for nearly nine months and it is a huge concern for staff, not just the worry for their jobs, but also for the services they have built and delivered. I think our members concerns are legitimate and were clearly outlined in a recent survey undertaken by UNISON."
Notes for editor
1. UNISON is the public service union for the UK. It is the biggest trade union in Scotland and the biggest trade union representing local government staff in both Clackmannanshire and Stirling Councils
2. Survey link
Councillors to contact with links for contact details on relevant websites