Advice Services Cuts
• The reduction of three posts in Advice Services is predicated upon a “redesign of advice services”. It concerns “Information Workers” and not Welfare Rights Officers or Money Advisers.
• This is apparently because an expanded use of telephone advice via triage could accommodate a reduction in posts. The reality is that no such redesign has ever been carried out so the reduction in staffing represents a leap of faith rather than anything based in fact.
• It also overlooks the fact that Universal Credit, unlike many legacy benefits, does not readily lend itself to telephone advice and invariably requires a face to face interview. We are concerned that the recommendation to reduce this service in this way was developed without a sound or comprehensive knowledge of the actual impact this will have.
• At present, this part of the service is provided by eleven members of staff. However, only four of those are permanent employees paid directly from council core funding. Eight are funded externally by Scottish legal aid board, Macmillan cancer support, anti-poverty money etc.
• Moreover, none of the Scottish legal aid board or MacMillan funding is guaranteed beyond March of next year at the latest.
• The reality of the proposal is that three out of four permanent posts will be lost and, if external funding is not continued, then we could be in a position this time next year when the work currently undertaken by eleven workers will reduce to one.