Charities in ‘merger’ to save £10m
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