Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Integrated Care Organisation - North Somerset Councillors concerns

Here's a link to an extract from the minutes of North Somerset Council's Children & Young People's Policy and Scrutiny Panel meeting on 14th June, which was submitted to the North Somerset Council Executive on 26th June. It outlines the councillors concerns.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

UNISON Local Government Conference June 2012 - Pensions and Pay

This year's UNISON Local Government Conference took place in Bournemouth on 17th and 18th June. Many motions were debated but I'm going to mention some long and interesting debates on pensions and pay.


On Sunday afternoon there was a very long debate on the latest deal on the Local Government Pension Scheme. A number of emergency motions asked conference to agree a recommendation to members to reject the deal and to change the timetable for balloting members, which is currently set for the first 3 weeks of August, when many members will be on holiday. The vote on these emergency motions looked pretty even to me, and many delegates requested a card vote, whereby each branches total voting power (that is numbers of members) is taken into account. The card vote was denied by the Chair. The only emergency motion which was passed by conference was a motion requesting branches consult with members over the next few weeks to get their view on the new pensions proposals, and this will enable UNISON to decide what recommendation it will give to members on the ballot papers. North Somerset UNISON will be holding members meetings on the pensions deal (along with the Integrated Care Organisation) at the following times and locations - make sure you attend:

26th June at 12.30 Castlewood room 2.07

28th June at 12.30 at Badger House FF room 2

3rd July at 12.30 at the Town Hall New Council Chamber

11th July at 12.30 at Weston Hospital – Academy, Syndicate C

25th July at 1.15 pm at Castlewood, G9/10

31st July at 12.30 at Badger House FF room2

7th August at 12.30 at the Town Hall New Council Chamber

14th August at 12.30 at Weston Hospital – Academy, Waverley room

21st August at 12.30 at Castlewood Rooms G8/G9/G10

If you can't get to a meeting there's a very brief survey which you can complete by following this link:

The ballot will begin on 31st July and end on 24th August. Here's my assessment of the deal but members should look at the full details which can be found at: 

Will we pay more? YES and NO - there will be no increased contributions for those earning less than £43,000 a year, but those earning more than £43,000 will have contribution increases. In addition because of the new link between our retirement age and the state pension age, which is increasing to 68, then all members will pay more, because they'll be paying into their pension scheme for more years.

Will we have to work longer? YES – the government is still linking the Local Government retirement age to the state retirement age, which is gradually increasing to 68 and may go up even further.

Will we get less? YES because the government have already changed the way they calculate yearly pension increases from the RPI rate of inflation to the CPI rate of inflation, wiping off approximately 15% of the value of your pension. In addition the new scheme will be a Career Average (CARE) scheme and not a Final Salary scheme - the government wont' budge on this. There are a variety of views on whether or not CARE schemes are as good as final salary schemes. Members should look at the information published on UNISON's website at the address above, and also consider whether the method by which each year of your earnings will be revalued in a CARE scheme (according to the rate of CPI, rather than average earnings increases) will deliver equivalent benefits to a final salary scheme, or in other words members need to assess whether or not they think their union will be able to negotiate decent yearly pay increases for its members over the period of time in which you are paying into your pension.

The good news is that those members within 10 years of retirement from April 2012 will be protected. All staff TUPE transferred from local government to private and voluntary sector providers will get to take their pension with them, and the trade unions have negotiated a new 50-50 option where members can decide to pay 50% of their contributions in return for 50% of their pension - this is designed to prevent opt outs from the scheme.

Although we achieved much through taking industrial action on 30th November, I personally think that we did not achieve enough when assessed against what we campaigned against – “pay more, work longer, get less”. But the only way we can achieve all these aims is if all our members are prepared to take sustained industrial action. In North Somerset under half of our membership took industrial action for one day in November, so it seems unlikely that members will be prepared to take further sustained action. But members may prove me wrong. I also think we need to remember that we have many reasons to take action - not just pensions, but the pay freeze, pay cap, localised pay, and cuts to terms and conditions, jobs and services. But if UNISON members do not want to take further industrial action, then they will need to accept what’s on offer, and live with it. It’s your decision. Make sure you attend a meeting to find out more and make sure you vote in the ballot in August.


Ken Mulkearn from Income Data Services (IDS) gave a presentation on Local Government Pay, and the government's proposals for regonalised pay. He outlined how Local Government workers are the poor relations in the public sector. Here's a few shocking, or maybe not so shocking facts:

In 2000 the lowest rate of local government pay was 25% higher than the national minimum wage. In 2012 with the national minimum wage due to rise to £6.19 per hour in October, the lowest rate of local government pay is currently £6.30 an hour - only 11 pence or 2% higher than the national minimum wage. If there are no increases this year then by 2013 we could see the lowest rate of local government pay being under the minimum wage, and therefore illegal.

Local government workers are now in year 3 of the pay freeze. Because of the rate of inflation over the past 3 years, this is estimated to equate to a 13% pay cut. Many councils, including North Somerset Council have refused to pay the £250 yearly pay increase for those earning under £21,000 promised by George Osborne. Low paid workers at North Somerset Council are currently under threat of having their enhancements reduced.

Low pay in Local government is an equalities issue because 77% of all local government employees are women. In addition 55% of the total local government workforce work part time, and 90% of these part-time workers are women.

Local government pay is now worth 10% less than it was in 1997 once inflation is taken into account.

Earlier this year UNISON published a report on Local Government Pay entitled "Living on the Edge" - here's the link:

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Integrated Care - King's Fund Publications

Here are some links to useful publications on Integrated Care by the King's Fund

Clinical and Service Integration – the Route to Improved Outcomes (King’s Fund, Curry & Ham, 2010) -

King’s Fund report to the Department of Health and the NHS Future Forum Integrated Care for Patients and Populations: Improving outcomes by working together (Jan, 2012) -

Integrated Care Summary: What is it? Does it work? What does it mean for the NHS? (King’s Fund, 2011) -

Integrating Health and Social Care in Herefordshire, The King’s Fund Conference, 31st March 2011 – – see session 3.

Integrating Health and Social Care in Torbay, The King’s Fund, March 2011 - - see session 3

Integrating Health and Social Care in Torbay - Improving Care for Mrs Smith, The King's Fund, March  2011 -

Legal Challenge to Lawfulness of Cuts to Youth Services in North Somerset to be Heard this Wednesday, 13 June 2012

A claim brought by Aaron Hunt, a resident of Banwell, Weston-Super-Mare, which challenges the lawfulness of North Somerset Council’s decision to cut funding to its youth centres is to be heard in the High Court sitting in Cardiff on 13 June 2012. If the claim is successful, North Somerset Council may be forced to reconsider the cuts it has made.

The Claimant, represented by Public Interest Lawyers, lodged his claim on 12 April 2012.  He argues that the decision to impose cuts of over 70% to the budget of Youth Services in North Somerset was arrived at without consulting adequately with service users. Moreover, it is argued that the Council did not give due consideration to the needs of vulnerable users protected by the Equality Act 2010.

Mr Hunt suffers from learning difficulties and relied upon his local youth club for support and friendship. The reconfiguration of his club left Mr Hunt feeling confused and isolated and the uncertainty about the club’s long term sustainability has been the source of considerable upset. In his evidence to the Court, Mr Hunt described his concerns that the ‘happy family’ he is a part of might be ‘broken up’.

The Council’s decision has already had profound effects across the whole of North Somerset with six youth groups already confirmed as having closed or being due to close. Surviving youth groups face a period of uncertainty as the Council provides only a limited funding grant. Local town and parish organisations and residents are desperately attempting to organise activities to try and plug the gaps left by the Council’s decision.

Permission was granted for the case to proceed to full judicial review by Mr Justice Wyn Williams on 14 May 2012. Mr Justice Wyn Williams abridged the usual timetable for judicial review hearings and the case was transferred to the Administrative Court in Cardiff to facilitate an expedited hearing of the crucial matters raised by the claim. 

The claim seeks a declaration that the decision of North Somerset Council to reduce funding to Youth Services was unlawful. An order overturning the decision is also sought.
For further information, contact:
Public Interest Lawyers - Phil Shiner and Cianan Good

Telephone: 0121 515 5069

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Integrated Care Organisation - Information going to North Somerset Council Scrutiny Panels

The following link takes you to a short report from the Integrated Care Transition Board, which will be considered by North Somerset Council Scrutiny Panels during June:

The panels all take place at the town hall on the following dates:

11th June at 3.30 pm - Strategic Planning & Economic Development
14th June at 10.30 am - Children & Young People's Services
15th June at 10.30 am - Adult Services
19th June at 2.30 pm - Community & Corporate

This link takes you to North Somerset UNISON's submission on the Integrated Care Organisation:

Finally, this link takes you to the Project Board's Options Appraisal for the Integrated Care Organisation, which we obtained through Freedom of Information:

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Flexi Time - Latest News

North Somerset Council implemented a new flexi-time policy on 1st June 2012. During the consultation period on the new policy and in order to assess the strength of feeling on the issue, UNISON did a very quick, but not thorough, consultative ballot in response to a number of members contacting the branch to say they weren’t happy with it and would be prepared to take industrial action over it. The branch has been informed that in order to get our Regional Secretary’s approval to move to a formal ballot for some sort of industrial action that we need to have undertaken a full consultative ballot of all members affected. As a result we will shortly be issuing consultative ballot papers to all North Somerset Council members.

The following is a brief outline of the key points of both old and new policies:

Under the OLD Flexi Time policy (up to 31st May 2012):  
  • Up to 15 hours flexi could be accrued and carried over to the next month
  • 8 debit hours could be carried over to the next month
  • Staff could take 1 day’s flexi leave per month
  • TOIL hours were additional hours outside the band width of 7.30 am to 18.30 pm on weekdays. Accumulating TOIL had to be pre-approved by managers
Even under the old scheme managers had the ability to deny flexibility in order to ensure adequate cover

Under the NEW Flexi Time policy (from 1st June 2012): 
  • Flexi-time is now only within the calendar month
  • TOIL is now any additional hours worked over contracted hours and not just those hours worked outside the band width.
  • Up to 7.24 additional hours can be carried over into the next month as TOIL, but must be pre-approved by managers.
  • Under certain circumstances more than 7.24 hours can be accumulated as TOIL and carried over but needs service manager or director approval.
  • 1 day’s TOIL leave can be taken each month
Under the new scheme managers have the ability to deny flexibility in order to ensure adequate cover

Proposed Reductions to Enhancements for North Somerset Council Staff

North Somerset Council have been consulting with UNISON on reducing enhancements in order to save approximately £250,000 annually from the staff pay bill. The council argue that this is necessary because of the current financial situation and because our levels of enhancements are higher than in other local authorities. This, according to the council, will minimise the need for compulsory redundancies. UNISON opposes any reductions to our members’ terms and conditions. But it is the membership who have to decide on this IMPORTANT ISSUE, and ballot papers will be sent out shortly.

In the meantime if you receive a letter from North Somerset Council informing you that enhancements have been reduced and asking you to sign a new contract, DO NOT SIGN THE NEW CONTRACT. Contact the branch office immediately. If you choose to sign the new contract make sure you indicate clearly in writing that you are signing under protest pending legal advice from your trade union.

The proposals have changed since we asked you to respond to the previous consultative ballot, and they are now the following:

  • Non-contractual additional hours Monday to Friday to cease if they do not meet agreed criteria (to be agreed / authorised in advance by line manager). Agreed criteria are:

    • When overtime is being used to cover short-term vacancies and approval has been given to fill the vacancy
    • When overtime is being used to cover short-term sickness and work cannot be redistributed or absorbed
    • To meet minimum health & safety requirements
    • Costs must be within approved budget
    • To fulfil business critical needs
    • To contribute to achieving income targets

  • Non contractual and contractual additional hours to be paid at same rates, as follows:

    • Contractual overtime payments reduced from plain time + 50% to plain time only. Overtime payment to be at same level as enhancements for other times.
    • Non-contractual overtime Monday to Friday to be reduced from plain time + 33% to plain time only
    • Non-contractual overtime Saturday & Sunday to be reduced from plain time + 50% to plain time + 25%
    • Non-contractual overtime Public & Statutory holidays to be reduced from plain time + 100% to plain time + 50% (with no TOIL)
    • Enhanced rate for Saturday & Sunday working to be reduced from plain time + 50% to plain time + 25%
    • Enhanced rate for Public or extra Statutory holiday to be reduced from plain time + 50% + TOIL to plain time + 50% with no TOIL

  • Enhanced rate for evening work (8pm – 10 pm) to remain at plain time + 25%

  • Enhanced rate for night work (10pm – 6 am) to remain at plain time + 33%

·       No change to Standby and Oncall payments (£32.85 per 24 hour period), but these duties will only continue where there is a demonstrable evidence of need to have staff on call, and the following criteria will also need to be met:

    • Initial response cannot be adequately provided through Senior Duty Rota or existing Out of Hours Emergency Contacts
    • Cover cannot be provided by volunteer rota
    • Where there are very few instances of actual call out a risk assessment / options appraisal should be undertaken for that area.

  • Callout payments for attending work whilst on standby or Oncall remain unchanged at £13.20 per hour.