Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Judicial Review over Cuts to Youth Services in North Somerset



High Court Challenge to Unprecedented Cuts to North Somerset Youth Services

Public Interest Lawyers Ltd (PIL) is representing a resident of North Somerset in a judicial review of North Somerset Council’s decision to cut Youth Services provision by over 70% between 2011/12 and 2014/15. The judicial review claim was lodged at the High Court in London on 12th April 2012 and a High Court Judge will decide in the week commencing 30th April 2012 whether the matter will proceed to a full hearing.

As a result of the challenged cuts, six youth groups will cease to operate.  These are the ‘Spread Your Wings’ and ‘Girls Group’ at Milton and Old Worle Children’s Centre; the ‘Just4Girls’ group, the ‘Girls Group’ and ‘Boys Group’ at South Weston Healthy Living Centre; the ‘Girls Project’ at The Barn, Clevedon; ‘Timeout Sessions’ at Clevedon School, and the ‘Gay, Bisexual, Lesbian, Confused Group’ at Nailsea Youth House.  

Youth Groups at Backwell, Banwell, Bleadon, Castle Batch, Clevedon, Congresbury, Locking Castle, Long Ashton, Nailsea, Pill, Portishead, Weston and Worle are all affected. At the start of April, it was not clear in what form the open access Youth Groups aimed at young people from within South Ward in Weston were due to continue. The ‘Friday Fun’ group at Portishead Youth Centre was also at risk as no new service provider had come forward.

Whilst the Council has made limited finances available to ease the transition to community provision of youth services, their long term future is in doubt.  Other cuts are also expected as responsibility for all other youth provision is left in the hands of a handful of youth workers and local residents. 

PIL is representing a young adult who has attended a Youth Club in Weston for a number of years.  In his evidence to the Court, the Claimant describes how attending the Youth Centre feels like being ‘part of a family’. He is worried that this ‘happy family’ might be ‘broken up’.
The Claimant contends that North Somerset Council failed to thoroughly evaluate the impact and long-term sustainability of community-run youth services and that it failed to adequately consult the users themselves or even to make them aware of the scale and impact of the proposed changes.   He also argues that the Council breached its statutory duties under the Equality Act 2010 in failing to give due regard to its obligation to consider the ‘protected characteristics’ of a number of service users – characteristics such as disability, gender and race.

Considerable public opposition to the cuts to Youth Services has already been expressed (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-17127050).  The Claimant in the judicial review is being funded by the Legal Services Commission (LSC) in his legal challenge, who are likely to require financial contributions from local residents who may benefit from the Council being forced to reconsider the cuts in question.  Persons who are affected by the cuts or who are able to make a financial contribution are being asked to email local campaigners on nsyouthserviceschallenge@yahoo.co.uk in support, or to contact Public Interest Lawyers below. 

Daniel Carey, a solicitor at PIL, said today:

“Youth services are highly valued by the young people that use them and have been the lifeblood of many communities for a number of years.  Their long term future has been thrown into doubt by the unprecedented scale of these cuts, which will bite harder progressively over the next three years.  For cuts of this severity, the law requires the Council to carry out a high degree of information gathering and to anxiously consider their impact before approving them.  But the Council has clearly failed to do this.  It is refusing to push the pause button on these cuts, so we have no option but to ask the High Court to intervene.”

For further information, contact:

Public Interest Lawyers: Daniel Carey and Cianan Good

Telephone: 0121 515 5069

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Saturday, 21 April 2012

Save Our NHS May Day Demonstration and Rally

Saturday 5th May Assemble 11am College Green

The government's Health & Social Care Bill has been passed. This doesn't mean that the fight to save the NHS is over – it's just starting. People up and down the country will resist these changes.

The new act will fragment the NHS. Private companies will take over services and make a profit from them. The result will be a system like the USA where many people have no health care and private health companies make vast profits.

The changes are costing billions of pounds at a time when the government is also cutting the NHS budget. We will end up with a worse service and have to pay to use it. Only the private health companies will benefit.

The NHS is should be about co-operation not competition and privatisation. NHS workers and users of the service all recognise the threat these changes make. Together we can prevent them being implemented.

This demonstration is one of several events in the city marking May Day – international workers' day.

For more information contact admin@bristolanticutsalliance.org.uk

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Meetings for members about plans for an Integrated Care Organisation


North Somerset Council is proposing to create an Integrated Care Organisation by putting Adult Social Care and Children & Young People’s Services into a brand new organisation along with Weston Area Health Trust, NHS North Somerset and North Somerset Community Partnership (already a Social Enterprise). It looks likely that this Integrated Care Organisation will be a brand new organisation (probably a social enterprise), which affected staff will be TUPE transferred into. Don't let the term social enterprise fool you - a social enterprise is a private company. So this also means it will be the biggest privatisation of public services undertaken in North Somerset. We as UNISON members need to be in there influencing the process at an early stage, and arguing for closer partnership working and secondment of staff, rather than the transfer of staff to a new organisation, where staff terms and conditions may be changed. UNISON reps involved in the consultation on these proposals need to know what members think and are prepared to do. As a result it is really important that you attend one of the meetings listed below to find out more and give us your opinion. We are also asking you to bring non-union colleagues along to the meetings so that that we can encourage them to join. And we will be looking for a member of every team affected to become a workplace contact or rep so that we can ensure good communication throughout the process. If you would like to put your name forward as a contact please email unison@n-somerset.gov.uk or phone 01934 634759.

The council's report on the Integrated Care Organisation can be found here http://www.n-somerset.gov.uk/cairo/docs/doc23399.htm


26 April in the Kenn Room at the Town Hall at 12 noon

3 May in rooms G8/9/10 at Castlewood at 12 noon

9 May in First Floor room 2 at Badger House at 12.30

10 May in the Waverley room in the Academy at Weston General Hospital at 12 noon

23 May in rooms G8/9/10 at Castlewood at 12.30

29 May in First Floor room 2 at Badger House at 12.30

7 June in the Kenn Room at the Town Hall at 12.30

14 June in the Waverley room in the Academy at Weston General Hospital at 12.30

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

UNISON Health members to be balloted on final NHS pensions proposals

UNISON members in Health are being balloted on whether or not to accept the proposals for their new pension, or to reject and take further sustained industrial action. The ballot opens on 11th April and closes on 27th April. Make sure you vote.

Summary of the proposals

The proposed scheme would change your pension in the following ways:

  • Move from a final salary structure to a Career average revalued earnings (or Care) scheme; your pension will be based on a proportion of your wages each year, increased to take account of inflation;

  • Move to an increased accrual rate of 1/54 which would mean that 1/54th of your pensionable pay would count towards your pension rather than 1/80th in the 1995 section of the current scheme and 1/60th in the 2008 section;

  • Increase your normal pensionable age by linking it to the state pension age – this would currently mean that from 2015 your retirement age would increase to 65, moving up to 68 by 2046;

  • Extending Fair Deal to allow you to stay in the pension scheme if you are TUPE transferred to a non-NHS employer in the future;

  • The new proposals would be effective from 2015, with all pension rights accrued up to that point fully protected and payable from your current pensionable age, whether that is 55, 60 or 65;

  • And if you are within 10 years of that pension age now, you would remain in your current scheme with no change to your retirement age. There is also ‘tapered’ protection if you are between 10 and 13.5 years from your normal pension age.

Pension contributions

Contribution increases (the amount you pay towards your pension) have been imposed for 2012 – but not for those whose Full Time Equivalent (FTE) earnings (for a full-time job) are less than £26,558. Contributions were increased by 1.5% for people with FTE earnings between £26,558 and £48,982 and increased by 2.4% for those with FTE earnings of more than £48,982.

Increases for 2013-14 and 2014-15 have not yet been set, but indicative figures (tiered so those earning less pay a smaller proportion) are included in the ministers’ proposals.

The proposals also include a commitment that the scheme would be set in legislation and there would be no further reform for 25 years.

Recommendation from your UNISON Health service group executive committee

The position of your service group executive committee is that the proposals are the best that can be achieved through negotiation. This is because the proposals fall short of what the union wanted to achieve for you. Improving these proposals would require a commitment from you to take further – and sustained – industrial action, and it is important that we know whether this is something you are willing to undertake.

Check our pensions calculator at www.unison.org.uk/pensions/yourpension.asp to see how the changes affect you.

Link to a Short guide to the proposed new NHS pension scheme:

Link to a Full guide to the proposed new NHS pension scheme: http://www.unison.org.uk/acrobat/20704.pdf

If you are not happy with the final deal you need to reject it and be prepared to take further, sustained industrial action.