Disability charities unite to protect frontline services

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Andy Kerr and Theresa Shearer.

​Frontline services will be protected - but a small number of back room staff could lose jobs

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31st March 2018 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Two leading disability charities are joining together in a move they say will protect and grow frontline social care services across Scotland.

Enable Scotland and Sense Scotland have launched an innovative group structure, thought to be the first of its kind in the charity sector in Scotland, in order to "accelerate change in improving the lives of disabled people and the dedicated staff who care for them".

The charities say extensive independent analysis estimates that by working in partnership, they will deliver substantial savings and efficiencies available to re-invest in frontline services.

However, they have admitted a "small number" of back office staff could lose their jobs.

The collaboration will take up to a year to fully implement, with staff and wider stakeholder consultations expected.

Both charities will share innovation, property and resources in an overarching group structure to enable them to reach even more disabled people throughout Scotland.

Both Enable and Sense will retain their individual identities and relationships with families, disabled people and supporters, as well as their chief executives.

In a joint statement Andy Kerr, chief executive of Sense Scotland and Theresa Shearer, chief executive of Enable Scotland, said: “Enable Scotland and Sense Scotland are joining together to further boost the quality of care and help for more disabled people.

“Our shared vision is delivering the support needed for disabled people to live the lives they choose, in their own homes and local communities.

“By bringing two strong charities together, we will accelerate change and improvement for disabled people, and for the dedicated staff who care for them.

“Ultimately, we are doing this to help share the cost of continuing to deliver quality care and support to those who need it in their own homes.”

The charities have described the move as a proactive and innovative response to the challenging conditions facing families and organisations operating in the social care sector in Scotland.

According to Kerr and Shearer, approaches from other organisations who may wish to join the group are being welcomed and would be seen as an opportunity to further strengthen their joint ability to deliver quality frontline support to those who need it.

Under the group structure, all frontline jobs will be protected and support will be offered to a “small minority” of affected back office staff to explore alternative career options across both organisations.

Enable and Sense said they are working with their recognised trade unions during the process.

"This is about future-proofing the workforce as a whole to deliver modern, vibrant jobs"

Disability charities unite to protect frontline services

Why are you doing this and what are the benefits going to be?

Andy Kerr (AK): We’re embarking on this joint venture to further boost the quality of care and help for more disabled people. Our shared vision is delivering the support needed for disabled people to live the lives they choose, in their own homes and local communities. By bringing two strong charities together, we will accelerate change and improvement for disabled people, and for the dedicated staff who care for them.

Theresa Shearer (TS): Quite simply, we are doing this because it is the right thing to do in order to put resource where it is needed – at our frontline for the benefit of the people we support. A lot of charities come together when one or both is in crisis, but this is a really solid move to collaborate – we don’t need to, we want to. This is not about being big for the sake of it. It is two strong charities saying we will share resources so that we can invest more in our staff, and it will be better for families and their loved ones, and good for our workforce too. 

 Is the Scottish Government driving this?

TS: No. This is a joint venture between Enable Scotland and Sense Scotland, driven by myself and Andy, and fully supported by our respective boards of trustees.

AK: Together, we will work with the Scottish Government to ensure the success of the new group structure, our delivery and the future of the social care sector in Scotland.

Why partner with each other?

AK: Both organisations have great complementary strengths, and by pooling our resources, we will be able to reach even more disabled people throughout Scotland. Individually and together we are committed to protecting frontline services and paving the way to a brighter future for the people we support and our workforce under the new group model.

TS: By combining our support functions in an overarching group structure, we will ensure tight resources are focused increasingly on frontline services, helping even more people in years to come.

Will there be redundancies?

TS: We will protect frontline jobs, which across both organisations represent around 85% of the workforce. By doing so we will ensure continuity of service to the people we support, and their families. For the vast majority of our workforce, their jobs will be more secure. This is about future-proofing the workforce as a whole to deliver modern, vibrant jobs through the introduction of a digitally enabled workforce. For the small minority of our back-office staff who may be affected, we are looking at alternative career options within the organisation and will support them throughout the process.

AK: We are also working with our recognised trade unions as we move forward, together, to secure the strongest future for staff and the delivery of great quality social care support. By working closely together, there will be more career opportunities, and greater learning potential for our staff than ever before. We will of course listen to staff about any changes that they think we need to make.

Do you believe that bigger is really the best way forward?

TS: Together, we are committed to delivering person-centred support to disabled people and their families across Scotland. By combining our support functions in an overarching group structure, we will ensure tight resources are focused increasingly on the frontline services.

AK: We will also be able to share facilities and increase our geographic reach. Through the savings we make, we intend to deliver quality support to even more disabled people and their families, which can only be a good thing.

TS: This venture is the first of its kind in terms of scale and significance of the social sector. Andy and I, as well as the Boards of both organisations, are confident in the model and believe it has the potential to impact more widely on the landscape of social care delivery in Scotland.

AK: It’s also important to remember that we are two established organisations coming together from a position of strength to realise greater efficiencies through joint working to address proactively the current challenges in the sector.

Is there a plan to bring others on board in future?

AK: Absolutely, but for now, our focus is to lay firm foundations for the group. As we enter into a 12-month listening and discussion process, planning and implementation, we welcome approaches from other organisations who may wish to join the group.

TS: Bringing other charities on board will help us further strengthen our ability to deliver quality frontline support to those who need it.

Is this an equal partnership or will one organisation be in charge?

TS: We are excited to be creating a new charity group. While the new ‘parent’ charity, with its own brand and identity, will house both Enable Scotland and Sense Scotland as group members, each charity will retain their individual identity and relationships with families, disabled people, supporters and members.

Why do you need two chief executives?AK: This period of change requires stability and the expertise of both chief executives. We both feel this will enable us to ensure that frontline services continue and that there is no change in the provision of frontline services for the people we support. Both of us will work together to drive the strategic direction and implementation of this pioneering partnership model, the first of its kind in terms of scale and significance in the social sector in Scotland.

TS: We will return to the issue after the transition period. Ultimately, this is a decision for both boards to make.