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Social care reducing staffing levels

AROUND 70 social care staff are to leave council employment after their applications for early or voluntary retirement (ERVR) have been accepted.

Letters offering redundancy packages went out to 69 individuals last week.

The move could knock as much as £1.5 million off the council’s wage bill as of 2014/15.

Shetland Islands Council is also deleting around 50 vacant posts in social care.

Both measures will reduce the number of posts in the sector from almost 1,000 to below 900.

Most of the social care staff leaving the council will do so between now and the end of the year, later than initially planned and budgeted for.

Monday’s social services committee heard that the service was currently £1.1 million over budget, mainly due to the delay in implementing the ERVR programme.

Interim director of community care, Simon Boker-Ingram, said the department would find it difficult to deliver a balanced budget at the end of the year, but added that as of 2014/15 the prospects were “much more sustainable”.

Meanwhile, the drive to an ever closer working relationship between the council and NHS Shetland took another step forward on Wednesday when the committee approved plans to create a jointly funded director for community health and social care.

The council’s chief executive described the move as “the logical next step” on the road to deliver integrated community health and social care services across the isles.

The decision will save the SIC around £50,000, as half of the employment cost will be met by NHS Shetland.

Next month three councillors will be chosen to serve on the joint appointment panel.