Rhondda care privatisation: Open letter to Welsh Government

UNISON Cymru/Wales regional manager Simon Dunn
Pictured above: UNISON Cymru/Wales head of bargaining and campaigns Simon Dunn

UNISON Cymru/Wales has today (Tuesday) written the open letter below to Welsh government deputy minister for health and social care Julie Morgan MS following the decision by Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council to privatise care in the region.

Dear Minister

I am writing on behalf on UNISON Cymru/Wales to request a Welsh Government intervention to pause the actions arising from a decision of Rhondda Cynon Taf’s cabinet, to outsource the remaining 10% of ‘in house’ home care to the private sector.

The decision, taken yesterday morning (23rd October) was taken without proper consultation with trades unions, those who receive home care or their families and on, at best, sketchy financial information. Following the decision, care workers who were lobbying the council, were in tears and those whose loved ones were in receipt of care, were anxious and upset.

We understand the concern about a projected £35m shortfall in next years’ budgets.

However, UNISON believes this to have been an ill thought out, hasty decision which will leave the council unable to respond to future failings of private sector providers, such as we have seen elsewhere in Wales.

The decision appears to fly in the face of the Rebalancing Care and Support Act, which specifically wants to rebalance care provision towards the public sector.

The way in which the decision was made also goes against the spirit of the Social Partnership and Procurement Act.

The Act directs in scope employers to try to seek agreement with trades unions. Peter Crews, the UNISON branch secretary for Cynon Taf Local Government branch, spoke to the cabinet members and pleaded for a deferral of the decision to allow alternatives to the proposal to be explored with trades unions and possibly APSE (The Association of Public Service Excellence).

This was rejected. Mr Crews told the cabinet that, he was surprised to hear that efficiency was the reason for the proposals, since no officer of the council had discussed any concerns about efficiency of the in house provision, or ideas to make improvements.

In the light of this shocking decision, we ask that Welsh Government intervene to allow time for alternative approaches to be explored. The prospect of a dispute is not something trades unions would relish, but the hurt and anger felt by care workers who chanted ‘it started with a clap and ended with a slap’ tells you all you need to know about how home care workers will want to respond.

Yours sincerely

Simon Dunn (pictured above) , UNISON Cymru/Wales head of bargaining and campaigns

Steve Belcher, UNISON Cymru/Wales Labour link officer