Threat of job losses in housing support in Edinburgh

11 Jul

– by Ian McDonald

Proposed changes to Housing Support Advice and Information Services in Edinburgh will lead to job losses and risk the quality of care provided for homeless people.

If these changes are implemented, they could lead to a loss of 30 jobs across the voluntary sector. Worryingly, the structure of the proposed changes appears to avoid TUPE liability. This would remove protection for workers affected by job losses. There are around 20 jobs in Edinburgh Council that focus on complex needs housing support as a result of a transfer of Edinburgh Homelink Partnership staff in 2009. This followed the failed tendering exercise for contracts to provide support to the most vulnerable and repeatedly homeless adults in the city. These jobs were saved after a last minute intervention by Unite on behalf of members in April 2009.

We are concerned that attempts will be made to use volunteers to offer support to vulnerable adults as a replacement for qualified staff. This will further diminish the skill set of the experienced workers delivering services. Using volunteers as cheap, unskilled, under-trained labour for work with vulnerable adults is no substitute to care provided by trained and experienced professionals.

The sole purpose of these proposals is to create competition between the voluntary and public sector members who currently deliver housing support to adults with complex and multiple needs.

The report will be put before the health, housing and social care committee of Edinburgh Council on August 16th.

– Ian McDonald is a Regional Industrial Officer for the voluntary sector.

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