Bonfire of the ALEOs as Glasgow brings two of its biggest back in house

Glasgow city chambers exterior

Could more council arms-length organisations be brought back under control? 

12th April 2018 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Glasgow is to bring two of its biggest arms-length external organisations (ALEO) back under local authority control.

Cordia, the council’s care arm and Community Safety Glasgow have begun the process of bringing thousands of workers back under the council's auspices.

And the move has led Unison, one of the country’s biggest unions, to call for the city’s seven remaining Aleos to be brought back under the wing of the local authority.  

An official report is going to the council’s City Administration Committee for a decision on 19 April about the future of Cordia and the services delivered by Community Safety Glasgow. Both Aleos employ a total of 6,500 staff.

Cordia staff, which include home carers and school janitors, will transfer to council employment on September 30. Community Safety Glasgow staff will transfer over to the council on March 31, next year.

Why were Aleos created?

Aleos were set up by Glasgow 10 years ago to mitigate a number of financial black holes the council was facing. Many are set up as charities and registered with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.

At the same time as the city's housing stock was being jettisoned to a new entity - Glasgow Housing Association - council bosses believed creating arms-length organisations to offset some of the city's most costly statutory obligations, such as care, would mitigate cost and encourage funding from the lottery and other bodies. 

At the time there were concerns about democratic accountability, and unions claimed they were introduced to save cash on workers’ pay and conditions. These problems have never gone way. 

While it has now been accepted that Aleos such as Cordia should be brought back under full control of the council, others such as Glasgow Life probably won't because their financial models are very different. 

In the end Cordia and Community Safety weren't saving the council any cash and were becoming thorns in its side despite being created to save money and resources. As staff pay disputes increase, the council has now seen sense and brought them back in house.   

Annemarie O’Donnell, the council’s chief executive, said: “The council has an ongoing responsibility to review its structures and the delivery of its services to make sure that we continue to meet legislative changes, avoid duplication and deliver best value efficient and effective services for the city.

“We also need to consider that the shape of the council family has changed since the Aleos were established and new legislative partnerships have been formed, including the Health and Social Care partnership with the NHS and the more recent Glasgow Community Planning Partnership.

“With all this in mind, the recommendations in the report are a result of more detailed business cases with input from all affected areas of the council family to achieve the best operating model for council services.”

Unison has hailed the move, calling Aleos nothing “but a combination of tax wheezes, a chance to hammer workers terms and conditions and an attempt to minimise equal pay claims.”

Brian Smith, Unison Glasgow Branch Secretary, added: “Previous Labour leaders also used places on Aleo boards to hand out sweeties to their pals or control political infighting. Well done to our members for keeping up the fight over the years.”

The trade union says it now expects progress on a number of ongoing wage issues.

“Unison now expects significant progress on a number of Cordia wage issues including harmonisation of shift pay, overtime rates and public holiday entitlement to those of the council,” Smith said.  

“We will be raising once again our members concerns over the shift patterns for home carers and indeed the need for more home carers in the city. We will also continue with our campaign for more school cleaners.

“Finally, we call on the council leadership to bring all the other Aleos back in-house.”

Cordia worker Frances Mowat Stojilkovic, called the move “moral boosting”.

“This move has given us all a wee boost of moral as our working conditions will be better and we will have all our terms and conditions back.

“Cordia has been the worst thing Glasgow City Council brought in. The place just went to rock bottom using this Aleo.”

Frank McAveety, Labour group leader said: “Our position is we should keep services under review. 

“As long as it meets the criteria of delivering quality services and job security we will be happy to support change. Cordia has done good things for the city and won awards for quality. We want to ensure we maintain that quality.”
He rejected claims the Aleos where a “tax wheeze.”

McAvety added: “The council had to create these entities in 2006 but the circumstances have changed. However taxpayers still need value for money.”

Glasgow's suite of Aleos
City Building
City Parking
City Property
Clyde Gateway
Glasgow Life
Glasgow City Marketing Bureau Limited
Community Safety Glasgow
Jobs & Business Glasgow