UNISON has welcomed the decision to “insource” admin jobs at the West Sussex multi-agency safeguarding hub that deals with children and young people.
Administration at the hub is currently covered by a county council contract with Capita.
But now the council says it is bringing the admin jobs under direct management because “vulnerable children are at risk of harm due to insufficient numbers of assessments being undertaken within 24 hours”.
UNISON south east regional organiser Caroline Fife (pictured) said that the union is pleased at the decision, adding: “The reality is it could do little else if it cannot meet its statutory obligations to vulnerable children by sticking with the Capita arrangement. That is very worrying indeed.”
Caroline added that “UNISON will co-operate fully” as the jobs are transferred to the council under TUPE regulations, which protect workers’ terms and conditions. That transfer took effect from 1st October.
She noted that the union “has been saying for years that this privatised contract is bad value for taxpayers, delivers poorer services and hammers staff, as their pay and pensions are reduced.”
The contract was set up in 2012 with a view to Capita taking on ever larger parts of the council’s services.
“That hasn’t happened and you can see why,” she added. “UNISON has played an important role for taxpayers and our members in scrutinising this contract.
“The council is conducting a broader review of the rest of its outsourced back office services and we await the outcome of that with interest.”
UNISON’s West Sussex branch commissioned independent research on the contract in 2015 and the report – Outsourcing services in local government: the West Sussex experience – can still be downloaded.
As well as making BBC TV, the county press all featured the story,