150 Jobs Go In Shake-Up Of Care Services

Almost 150 jobs are to be axed by Portsmouth City Council and there are almost certain to be more to follow. The cash-strapped council is axing 48 posts to save cash, at the same time as almost 100 people have opted to take redundancy as part of a radical revamp of care services for people needing help at home.

The restructuring of care services means the council will hive off all home care visits to the private sector, but will take on care of people with dementia or needing assessment.

Council bosses say the 98 carer jobs being lost as a result of the reshuffle are all ‘voluntary’ although union bosses insist the workers have been effectively forced out.

The moves follow February’s budget meeting when councillors agreed to save £1.5m through staff cuts, job freezes, reducing hours, not filling vacant posts or not taking on summer staff. However, pay-off packages for workers being made redundant is expected to cost up to £500,000.

Separate reviews have already identified future job cuts across several departments, including parking, traffic, housing and social care, and talks are already being held between council bosses and unions. A 24-hour counselling helpline has been set up for staff at risk of losing their jobs.

Head of human resources Kay White admitted the job losses were ‘regrettable’ but added: ‘We are doing this because we need the savings. While 146 posts will go, hopefully we will retain some of the people and their expertise.’

She added that £12m in savings had to be found over the next two years. ‘It is highly likely, given our forecast financial position, that further redundancies will be requested in the future.’

Union bosses will stand up for their members at a meeting of the employment committee on Tuesday. Lynne Angus, branch manager for Portsmouth Unison, said: ‘Young people with families to bring up are facing life on the dole. ‘Morale is very low, people are very stressed.’

Workers were offered new places but would have to cover round the clock shifts and retrain. Bryan Kent, Transport and General Workers regional organiser, said the carers who had taken voluntary redundancy were not prepared to look after people with dementia on a round-the-clock on-call rota basis. ‘A lot of these people did not want to go, but if there is no role for them, there is no alternative,’ he said.