COMMUNITY care staff throughout Shetland are being invited to apply for voluntary redundancy as the council continues to seek deep cuts in its spending.
On Wednesday Shetland Islands Council’s executive committee met in private to discuss proposals to remove the equivalent of around 25 full time posts from the service that looks after the old and infirm.
No individual posts are being targetted, and all staff are being consulted on how the cuts can be found, a process which could take months.
The decision comes as little surprise to current employees, many of whom have been looking out for other job opportunities in the isles’ burgeoning private sector.
However it is understood councillors expressed concerns about how the cuts will be distributed while ensuring a good quality of service is maintained across Shetland.
Social services committee chairman Cecil Smith said community care was no different from the rest of the council in that it would have to make its contribution to the 20 per cent efficiency savings being sought across the authority.
“We hope at the end of the day to have a more sustainable service that can maintain the high level of quality care that we currently have within the community,” he said.
Local government union Unison branch chairman Brian Smith said unions and staff were being involved in discussions about the consultation and was confident the council could stick to its policy of avoiding compulsory redundancies.
“There is no doubt that both sides are committed to doing this properly and fairly and the discussions are very inclusive,” he said.
Community care is a complex field where staff requirements can rapidly change depending on the level of support “customers” require.
The council is in the process of redesigning the care services that it provides and is this month carrying out a community consultation on plans to charge for care at home.
Only after the staff and public consultations have been completed will it be possible to draw up a blueprint of how the new service will look as it faces the challenge of an ageing population and declining public finances.
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