Inverclyde HSCP Budget Cut Proposal – Joint Trade Union Position


The Integrated Joint Board (IJB) are being asked to deliver a balanced budget over the next two/three years whilst at the same time closing a budget gap of just over £7m. In preparation for this HSCP managers have developed several savings proposals. These are broadly in three categories: increased charging, service reduction/withdrawal and service redesign. There are also some savings proposals which focus on budget adjustments such as a review of previous underspends and turnover savings.

The trade unions, not unexpectedly, have applied more scrutiny to those savings proposals captured under the service reduction/withdrawal and service redesign categories. It is in these areas where cuts to jobs will arise.

The first concern that needs to be highlighted is the time that IJB members and trade unions have had to scrutinise the proposals. Both were only given sight of the proposed cuts over the past several weeks. The proposals total £6m worth of savings/cuts with an initial calculation of just over 32 FTE job losses. The number of job losses will however be much higher since the job loss impacts of the service redesigns have not been full developed or quantified. The failure of HSCP management to provide the trade unions with more time to study and interrogate the savings proposals has not been helpful. Whilst we are not saying that this was intentional (explicitly anyway), it does raise questions about the value of the partnership and the commitment to meaningful partnership working.

It is normal for the trade unions to develop a red line position regarding specific proposals. In this instance we have tried to adopt a pragmatic approach, since we accept that a budget gap exists and needs to be closed. However, that is not to say that the plans in front of the IJB are the right plans to achieve this.

There is a significant cumulative saving on several service redesigns. A savings target has been assigned to each. In some of these IJB members are being asked to agree a savings target before a review has begun. The detailed sheets in most of these redesign areas lack anything that could be considered meaningful. This is an obvious risk to the IJB. Since the IJB would be committing to savings targets predicated on reviews that haven’t started.

Trade Union Red Lines

1) Review of Integrated Front Doors – The proposal is to cut £350k. Based on the ‘detailed’ sheet this cut would primarily impact on in-house advice services. This cut represents a 44% cut in the advice services budget and 48% of the advice services staffing budget. Effectively this could cut around 50% of jobs within that service. The people impact is completely unknown since a VER trawl is not planned until later in the year. The IJB are in no position to know, when agreeing their budget, if this cut could be delivered without compulsory redundancies. Or at the very least without several staff being displaced with no obvious suitable redeployment opportunities. Behind this there is clearly an aspiration to out-source or externalise advice and money services. This in itself isbad enough. The fact that there is no proper plan or strategy for using other providers (something the trade unions completely oppose) makes it worse. This saving proposal should not be agreed. I would suggest that if the IJB do agree to this saving then we will have no alternative but to register a dispute possibly of an industrial nature.

2) Homemakers Assessment & Care Management/Mental Health – The proposal is a cut of £167k with 4.61 FTE job losses. The justification for this proposal from an employee perspective is that that redeployment could be achieved within the wider social care workforce. This is based on a misunderstanding of the homemaker role and skill set which homemakers require to have. The assumption is that homemakers can be transitioned into a social care worker (formerly homecare worker) role. Whilst the grades are the same, the duties and responsibilities are fundamentally and materially different. Again, no VER trawl has taken place amongst this staff group and is not planned to take place until later this year. The IJB would therefore be agreeing to a savings without knowing how the employee impact would be managed.

3) Independent Living Services – The proposal is a cut of £500k. This represents an 11% cut in the budget and would impact on both social care and NHS staff. The ‘detailed’ sheet provides no clarity on the anticipated employee impact or what measures would be taken to mitigate any impact on jobs. Like the proposed advice services cut there is very much a ‘wait and see’ approach being proposed. An 11% cut in the budget equates to approximately 17 jobs assuming that the bulk of the saving was employee costs. It may be that other budget areas would be affected but no detail exists for the IJB to understand what the employee/non-employee impact would be. Again, no VER trawl is planned until later this year so delivering this saving without problematic employee impacts is another unknown.

Trade Union Secondary Red Lines

As stated earlier we have tried to take a pragmatic red line approach. We acknowledge the challenge facing the IJB in closing a significant budget gap. The following proposals whilst unacceptable to the trade unions, are probably less impactful in terms of managing the employees affected. 

4) Business Support Review – The proposal is a cut of £300k with 10 FTE job losses. This is another ‘cut first review later’ proposal similar to some of the other proposals. The only difference is that a review of business support functions was previously undertaken but was not concluded. The previous review did not have a savings target or anticipated FTE impact so any of the work undertaken may have limited value. We accept that the potential job losses proposed are more absorbable given turnover and potential redeployment opportunities elsewhere in the council and NHS. However, it remains unclear as to what happens to the work associated with the posts being cut. There is a vague notion (no more than that) around better more efficient digitalisation processes. Again, committing to a £300k savings target without a clear strategy or plan is a considerable risk for the IJB.

5) Redesign of Strategic Services – The proposal is a £231k cut with 3 FTE job losses. This is another proposal where the employee impact is probably absorbable. The issue for the trade unions is the lack of any meaningful detail in the ‘detailed’ sheet. Again, we would encourage IJB members to seek to clarify and understand the key impacts before reaching any decisions.


As you are aware the trade unions would have preferred to meet with members of the IJB to discuss these position points face to face. However, that wasn’t possible. Had we done so we would have reminded IJB members that they have a duty to protect employees and jobs. We all understand the need to consider the impact of cuts on service users and patients. However, we believe that safeguarding employees and the people who work for both the council and the NHS is just as critical. 

There is an opportunity for IJB members to do what is right and send some of these saving proposals back either for them to be withdrawn or significantly scaled back. Given the time constraints the trade unions have not had the proper opportunity examine and explore alternative ways of closing the budget gap. This is another mater which requires a wider partnership discussion.


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