GLASGOW City Council has threatened to cut the number of homelessness workers by 30% in a move which would slash the staffing budget by more than £800,000.


Frontline caseworkers who are members of trade union Unison have been on strike for more than ten weeks in a dispute over pay.

The council has previously resisted their demand for a salary uplift to level six, which could increase their wages by up to £5,000 a year.

However, the Evening Times has learned that the council has now agreed to upgrade some staff as part of a restructuring of the service which will reduce the number of homelessness workers from 124 to 88.

Leaked figures show that the scaling back of the service would save the council an estimated £837,633 annually.

The current cost of staffing the department is around £4.2m, a figure which would fall to £3.35m under the council's plans.

The Evening Times understands Unison members unanimously rejected the offer after talks with politicians from the local authority's Labour administration.

One caseworker, who asked not to be named, said: "They're trying to resolve this by cutting the budget and the number of staff.

"By taking £800,000 out of the budget they're going to cut the number of caseworkers on the frontline."

Another caseworker, who also asked not to be named, warned that any staffing reduction will impact on the service they provide.

"It would increase caseloads which would mean that staff won't be able to adequately deal with them due to time constraints," said the caseworker.

"People will wait a lot longer and remain homeless unnecessarily because we won't have the resources to get them to the right places more quickly.

"The current staff complement is struggling to deal with the numbers so I don't know how they expect a reduced staff complement to cope."

There are currently 77 homelessness caseworkers, according to council figures, and moving all of them to grade six could cost the local authority more than £350,000 a year.

Speaking to the Evening Times last week, Glasgow City Council's Executive Member for Social Care, Councillor Malcolm Cunning, said any decision would be based on a "business case" and would not be made "on the basis of whether we either have or have not the money available".

He said: "If we start fiddling with grades just to get rid of a problem then it just creates greater problems across the department and the council as a whole. We just can't do that.

"If we simply accept the proposition that we have found £350,000 under the settee, or if the Scottish Government sent us an envelope with £350,000 in it, we would still not, as a matter of principle, simply call it grade six."

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said a “positive” meeting had been held with the union on Wednesday and further talks are scheduled for Friday.

He added: “We have had another constructive meeting with Unison and we look forward to further discussions tomorrow.”

A source at Unison said: “There was a bit of progress but still disagreement over numbers. Probably the best way to describe it is half time in the current round of negotiations.”