Char­i­ties in ‘merger’ to save £10m

The Herald - - NEWS - STEPHEN NAYSMITH

TWO of Scot­land’s big­gest char­i­ties are to pool their ef­forts in an ef­fec­tive merger de­scribed as a “pre-emp­tive strike” against the threat of a re­turn to dis­abled peo­ple liv­ing in in­sti­tu­tions.

Dis­abil­ity char­i­ties En­able Scot­land and Sense Scot­land say the ground­break­ing move will help them save more than £10mil­lion in the face of a so­cial care cri­sis and al­low them to com­pete bet­ter with the pri­vate sec­tor.

The char­i­ties will con­tinue to run un­der their own names, but will op­er­ate as a group, mak­ing sav­ings by shar­ing back of­fice func­tions, dis­pos­ing of prop­erty and avoid­ing du­pli­ca­tion of ef­fort in fund­ing bids.

They in­sist the move will ben­e­fit the in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies they cur­rently sup­port, and while the aim is to make sub­stan­tial sav­ings and ef­fi­cien­cies, these will be rein­vested in im­prov­ing the pay and skills of work­ers and pro­vid­ing more in­di­vid­u­alised care.

En­able and Sense Scot­land are invit­ing other char­i­ties work­ing in so­cial care to join the new group struc­ture. There are more than 300 char­i­ties pro­vid­ing so­cial care sup­port to 12680 peo­ple in Scot­land who need it, and the char­i­ties say such du­pli­ca­tion of ef­fort is un­sus­tain­able.

While some jobs will be af­fected, front­line work­ers will be pro­tected and ef­forts will be made to re­de­ploy other staff at risk of re­dun­dancy.

Theresa Shearer, chief ex­ec­u­tive of En­able Scot­land, said while some char­ity merg­ers come about be­cause one or both par­ties are in fi­nan­cial trou­ble, the new group was a re­sult of 18 months of work. “A lot of char­i­ties come to­gether when one or both is in cri­sis, but this is a re­ally solid move to col­lab­o­rate,” she said. “We don’t need to, we want to.”

Nev­er­the­less, many char­i­ties are find­ing it in­creas­ingly hard to stay afloat, she said, mak­ing it hard to de­liver truly per­son­alised care and ac­com­mo­date changes like the care work­ers liv­ing wage. Or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clud­ing Au­dit Scot­land, Alzheimer Scot­land and Scot­tish Care have all warned the Gov­ern­ment’s self-di­rected sup­port pol­icy is not work­ing ef­fec­tively in all parts of the coun­try.

Ms Shearer said fam­i­lies were telling her “day in day out” that they were not get­ting the kind of choice and con­trol they had been promised. “This is not about be­ing big for the sake of it. It is two big char­i­ties say­ing we will not com­pete with each other, and it will be bet­ter for fam­i­lies and their loved ones, and good for our staff too,” she said.

Andy Kerr, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Sense Scot­land, who is a for­mer MSP, said at least 15 per cent of Scot­land’s so­cial care work­force ex­pe­ri­ence in-work poverty. “It is not good enough.

“There is a high turnover of in­di­vid­u­als pro­vid­ing the most per­sonal of care. Some peo­ple are see­ing a re­turn to in­sti­tu­tion­al­i­sa­tion be­cause of aus­ter­ity and that isn’t ac­cept­able. We can’t go back to the mis­takes of the past.”

“Pri­vate providers are mov­ing into a lot of this work down south, but peo­ple want to be work­ing with or­gan­i­sa­tions like ours..”

He said the new group is about recog­nis­ing that new ways of work­ing are nec­es­sary and added: “We are con­fi­dent this is a game changer. The ex­ter­nal en­vi­ron­ment is not go­ing to change. So the ques­tion for us was, ‘do we wait for a mir­a­cle to hap­pen, or do some­thing about it?’.”

We will not com­pete and it will be bet­ter. This is not about be­ing big for the sake of it

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