Conference: Our City, Our Future

Another Edinburgh is Possible is holding a conference on Saturday 10th September.

Register for the conference by clicking here

The day is designed to be participative so that individuals and campaigns can share ideas and strategies and learn from each other.

The conference is co-sponsored by Edinburgh Campaign Against Poverty, Zero Covid Scotland, Edinburgh Climate Coalition, Unite (City of Edinburgh Council), Unison (City of Edinburgh Council), EIS-FELA Edinburgh College, Edinburgh Trades Union Council, Unite Edinburgh Not For Profit, Muslim Women’s Association of Edinburgh, Edinburgh North and Leith Labour Party

The outline programme is:
10am Registration

A chance to register, grab a cup of tea and check out the stalls


10.30am Introductions to the conference

This first session is chaired by care worker Carmen Simon and will include some short contributions to set the context for the rest of the day


11.am Workshops on each of the 4 themes of the conference

The 4 themes are Care, Housing, Climate and Jobs – you’ll need to choose which one you want to start with. After 2 or 3 very brief introductions from different campaign perspectives the rest of the time will be spent in discussion on sharing knowledge and experience and discussing priorities and possible strategies.

12pm Feedback and discussion

There is then plenty of time for feedback from each of the groups and the chance for further discussion.


1pm Lunch

There’ll be tea (including non-caffeine options) and coffee available all day.  We will also supply biscuits and fruit.  There are food outlets a short distance from the venue but we’d encourage you to bring a packed lunch and/or food for sharing so that discussion can continue over the lunch break.


1.30pm Workshops on each of the 4 themes,

The aim is to build on the mornings sessions and focus on action. You can continue with the same theme as in the morning or switch to another.


2.35 Report backs and bringing things together


3.40 Summing up


4pm Conference closes

You can download the flyer here.

Covid safety

The hall at the Greyfriars Charteris Centre is large and airy. However, if you have any symptoms or have been in close contact with someone else who has Covid please test before you come to the venue. If you’re positive or if you’re negative but have active symptoms please keep others safe by staying at home. We are committed to sharing as much as possible of the discussion and outcomes via video and text and will also be organising follow up events to take the campaign forward.

Follow and share the Facebook event here.

Deputations to the August EIJB

The Edinburgh Integrated Joint Board met on Tuesday 8th August. It seems that the proposed public consultation on closure of publicly run care homes will not begin until December 2022. Members of Edinburgh Trades Union Council (ETUC) submitted deputations on care and we reproduce them here. ETUC would welcome comments from social care workers, carers and clients. Email us at edinburghjustrecovery@gmail.com and we’ll pass your comments on.

DEPUTATION TO EDINBURGH JOINT INTEGRATION BOARD  9/8/22

Since the end of the lockdown, social care providers  in Edinburgh have been experiencing a problem of recruitment and retention of staff that is increasing exponentially. Many social care workers have left the sector because of traumatic experiences during covid ( lack of PPE and  guidance, stress etc) . This problem of recruitment and retention  has been amplified by the consequences of  Brexit and the cost of living crisis. 

Social care workers don’t want to remain in a sector that pays low wages and demands a high level of responsibilities, a sector that is not able to meet inflation when it comes to annual pay raises.  A substantial number of care workers are moving to other sectors like retail, where terms and conditions  are similar and even better , and they have less  responsibilities.

Union reps and members  are reporting staffing levels so low that social care workers are expected to work 24 hours shifts, as many as three per  week. Sometimes the provider is not able to supply enough staff to cover shifts ( ie. If two service users who are in a two to one support plan   leave nearby, sometimes instead of having 4 workers   available for the whole shift, they have three workers, one of them floating in between flats). Social care workers are exhausted. 

We are aware that in many cases new staff members don’t receive adequate induction to the job, in some cases no induction whatsoever. We are talking about workers who support adults in the community with high levels of care and support  needs, including challenging behaviour, learning difficulties , mental health issues, addiction problems etc. 

It is easy to see this low level of staffing and lack of adequate induction/training  has also other major implications in terms of Health and Safety. 

Exhausted and /or under trained workers make mistakes,  mistakes in this field can have huge implications for the wellbeing of the people receiving the service and the care workers. ( ie, mistakes with medications, accidents/incidents with the use of appliances like hoist.) Our reps are reporting an increase in the number of  care workers being assaulted in the workplace  by service users and  an increase in stress-related  sickness absence. No wonder, many  new staff members don’t last in the job because there are no resources in place to enable them to do the job with confidence and  safely.

Even more worrying from the union’s point of view, is the increase of disciplinary processes and dismissals taking place in workplaces when incidents occur because of the reasons we just listed.  Workers are being punished by employers who have not been able to provide proper training and who have asked workers to do 24 hours shifts. In essence  workers are being made responsible for their employer’s failure to manage a service. Workers are being punished because there are not enough resources available in the sector to make it possible to work safely. This is the last turn of the screw, for many workers in the sector.

We call for the EIJB to commit to properly fund social care services in the city to sort this problem. 

Carmen Simon

Edinburgh Social Care Consultation and the current crisis in Social Care

I wish to thank the Board for agreeing to hear our deputation from Edinburgh Trade Union Council. My name is Des Loughney and I am the secretary of Edinburgh TUC. The other member of the delegation is Carmen Simon who is the vice chair of Edinburgh TUC and who is a social care worker. She has over ten years experience of being a frontline social care worker in Edinburgh.

We wish to comment under two headings of your agenda. The first is item 6.3 which is the Lothian Strategic Development Framework which we believe encompasses the forthcoming public consultations on the future of the four care homes and the future of social care in Edinburgh. We also wish to comment on the current worsening crisis in third sector social care provision in Edinburgh. We  wish to comment on the letter we were copied into dated 2nd August from the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Parnership and signed by Jacqui Macrae, who is a non voting member of the EIJB.

I will be addressing the Board on the public consultation issues, as we perceive them, and my colleague will talk about the current crisis in social care which is having a detrimental effect on the quality of social care and the terms and conditions of the workforce.

As we had not heard for some months about the consultations we thought it would be worth saying to the Board how we expect the consultations to be conducted and what information we will need to come to a view on the consultation options. As we have said in previous deputations the information the public and the local trade union movement receive should help with answering our questions and not just the questions of the Board and management. We do not want options to be curtailed by financial assumptions which beg political assumptions about the funding available.

The report in 6.3 touches on the shortage of workers due to demographic changes.  That is one factor but there are other factors which influence the availability of social care workers. We hope that the consultation will provide full information on how BREXIT has affected labour availability; on the lack of skills and training,on poor terms and conditions, and the absence of attractive career progression that might result in a higher income, and on the physical and mental health impacts of understaffing and lack of good support and supervision.  We hope that the form of the consultation will recognise that trade unions are essential stakeholders in the provision of a quality service and their concerns need to be addressed. We hope that the consultation will address the stark contradiction that workers in the third sector and the private sector who do similar work to those employed in the public sector get paid much less per hour and do not enjoy the benefits of contractual sick pay and similar pensions.

We hope that the consultations later in the year will apply the same analysis of the private sector as it applied to the public sector. The EIJB accepted that that the four care homes were not up to modern standards and could not be refurbished to those standards. There was no analysis of the standards in the private sector which the COVID period showed were often inadequate. We refuse to accept the view of the EIJB that the private sector are ‘partners’ in the provision of social care. The main concern of the private sector is all about making profit. The private sector has an ethos and system of values that is far removed from being part of the welfare state and providing a quality service to the public and employing skilled workers on decent terms and conditions.  This has always been seen as inappropriate for the NHS and should be seen as inappropriate for social care.

The trade union movement, and we believe the public, will want the consultations to be frank about the future role of the private sector in Edinburgh. We believe that the forecast increased demand for low level social care, for moderate social care needs, for substantial social care needs, for critical social care needs, should be met by public sector or by third sector provision. We want the consultations to provide the public with the information to choose this option if they wish. The option should be not be removed because the officials believe that the private sector are essential partners whose role cannot be altered or must increase.  We do not think it is right that it can be suggested by the EIJB that there is no practical alternative to handing over social care in Edinburgh to the private sector.

We have some questions regarding the letter from Jacqui Macrae. We would ask why the trade union movement and the public should have confidence at all in the Consultation Institute. I have looked at their website and they do not claim any expertise in consultations that deal with complex workforce issues or critically evaluating the role of the private sector. The letter later refers to ‘stakeholders’ and the long term care options they would wish to see. We would like specific reference to and acknowledgement to be made that key stakeholders are the social care workforce and their trade unions.  Why is the summer needed to identify the concept that the workforce and their unions are key stakeholders?

The letter refers to ‘ we will share our vision, and present and show data providing context on the Edinburgh picture we now know and in the future’. We hope that this will be true and will take account of the impact of Long Covid and the postponements and delays in treatment/operations that were an outcome of the ongoing Covid epidemic. The experience of COVID has redefined future social needs. We hope that a full account will be taken of the growing impact of the cost of living crisis, fuel poverty and child poverty.

Thank you for listening to me. I would be pleased to answer any questions that you might have.

Des Loughney

Edinburgh Trade Union Council

Write to your MSP

The Scottish Government has published plans for a National Care Service. The new service would rely on outsourcing to the private sector. We believe there is no room for profit in care. The recent report Profiting From Care shows how private providers siphon off money to investors that could and should be spent on care. See our draft letter below which you can download, adapt and send to your MSP.

Our care service needs to be improved.

It is urgent to

  • Take profit out of care
  • Improve pay & conditions for workers
  • Make care local & accountable
  • Ensure adequate funding
  • Make care a free service

The social care bill is going ahead without taking crucial issues into consideration. 

The legislation focuses on centralisation. 

It misses our chance to make any real improvement to care & care work.

The Green manifesto and the Labour manifesto committed to halting the privatisation of the care service.

The STUC report, ‘Profiting from Care: why Scotland can’t afford privatised social care,’ explains how making care a business for profit adversely affects the quality of care and care work. The links between privatised care, poor outcomes and excessive profit extraction are set out in the report.

People in Scotland want to keep the NHS as a public service and when surveyed people have the same opinion about care. Many of us have experience of the shortcomings of the present approach.

We need to take the profit out of care. We must make caring a respected job. We need to make the service kind and humane.

YOU CAN IMPROVE CARE

Please contact your MSP urgently 

You can use the model email below (download it here)

Dear …………..

As one of your constituents, I am writing to draw your attention to the STUC report ’Profiting from Care: Why Scotland Can’t Afford Privatised Care.’ It considers the problems of the current care system and suggests ways to make it more effective and humane.The links between privatised care, poor outcomes and excessive profit extraction are set out in the report.

I ask you to use your influence to take profit out of social care.

It is time to act. The social care consultation and bill are going ahead in Scotland without taking this crucial issue into consideration. The legislation seems to focus on centralisation and misses our chance to make any real improvement to care & care work.

Have you read the report?

Do you agree the profit motive adversely affects the quality of care and [care] work?

Do you think it is something that has to be changed?

In Scotland the prevailing view is for keeping the NHS as a public service and when surveyed people have the same opinion about care. 

It is a popular issue. Many already have direct experience of the shortcomings of the present approach.

You are in a position to clarify the care issue and coordinate the widespread desire for a humane service. Any party working towards this would benefit. The Green manifesto committed to halting the privatisation of the service as did the Labour one.

As my MSP I would like you to lead the way on this. I think it would increase your popularity.

I rely on you to take these suggestions forward with urgency. I hope you will agree this is vital for the wellbeing of the people of Scotland.

Yours sincerely,

……………………

Your MSP’s address can be found here

https://www.parliament.scot/msps

FOR MORE INFO

BBC Panorama programme-Crisis in Care 

Profiting from care

A new report ‘Profiting from Care – why Scotland can’t afford privatised social care’ was launched in Edinburgh today. Here we share a short summary of the report’s findings and provide a link to the PDF version. It’s well worth reading in full. We’d love to publish longer reviews of the report or short reflections on the issues it raises. Email us at edinburghjustrecovery@gmail.com if you’d like to make a contribution.

The report, commissioned by the STUC, finds that Scotland’s large private social care providers are associated with lower wages, more complaints about care quality, and higher levels of rent extraction than public and third sector care providers.

Written by Christine Berry, Sara Mahmoud and Mike Lewis, the research finds:

•                     Nearly 25% of care homes run by big private providers had at least one complaint upheld against them in 2019/20, compared to 6% in homes not run for profit.

•                     In older people’s care homes, staffing resources are 20% worse in the private sector compared to the not-for-profit sector.

•                     Privately owned care homes only spend 58% of their revenue on staffing, compared to 75% in not-for-profit care homes.

•                     Over the last six years, the public sector has paid on average £1.60 more per hour to care workers.

•                     The most profitable privately owned care homes take out £13,600 per bed (or £28 of every £100 received in fees) in profits, rent, payments to the directors, and interest payments on loans. This compares to £3.43 in every £100 in fees for the largest not-for-profit care home operators.

The report argues that a truly transformative National Care Service must be based on a not-for-profit public service, delivered through local authorities with an ongoing role for the voluntary sector. It calls for the Scottish care home estate to be transferred out of private ownership gradually over time – for instance, through a multi-year plan backed up by Barnett consequentials from the UK government’s NI tax rise, Scottish National Investment Bank loans, ‘care bonds’ or capital borrowing. With ‘financial leakage’ in the region of £100 million per year, the report argues that, for the most extractive providers, this could pay for itself within a matter of years.

You can read the full report here .

Updated Campaign Statement

Over the last few weeks we’ve been working on an update to our campaign statement. This version was approved at the campaign meeting on 9th June 2022. (You can download the statement here).

Another Edinburgh is Possible

It is time to end the cycle of cuts to vital local services in our city.  Austerity, outsourcing and privatisation has been legislated by Westminster via Holyrood and implemented by the City Council for too long.  

Edinburgh has the lowest expenditure per capita on local services in Scotland.

Since 2012/13, Edinburgh City Council budget cuts have amounted to more than £300 million.  If nothing changes, more huge cuts will inevitably follow over the next three years.

The cuts have already had a terrible effect on essential services.  The most vulnerable, already exposed to cuts in social security benefits, have suffered most. 

Covid19 added to an already bleak picture with increases in unemployment, child poverty, mental distress and the long term effects of Long Covid.  The pandemic shone a harsh light on the gaps in local services and underlined the importance of key workers and provisions for health, social care, housing, and education.  

Now huge increases in gas, electricity and fuel prices and the rapidly rising cost of living are tightening the screw further.  This is not sustainable. We can’t go on in this way.

There is money to fund the services we need. The Westminster government paid more than £30 billion to private companies during the pandemic for outsourced services and equipment that was mostly wasted.  Westminster, Holyrood and Edinburgh are all committed to outsourcing services to private providers who then rake off a large percentage of our local and national taxes to pay dividends to their wealthy shareholders. We need an end to outsourcing and the rebuilding of publicly run and democratically controlled local services. The wealth generated by our workers, service providers and service users could be sustainably invested to rebuild our city’s essential infrastructure.     

For too long our city has been undermined by Westminster and a compliant Holyrood parliament with cuts meekly implemented by Edinburgh City Council.  We call on elected councillors, MSPs and MPs to join us in linking the local with the national picture and campaigning for a reallocation of resources to transform lives and livelihoods for the better.

Council Elections 2022

The elections for Edinburgh City Council take place on May 5th. You can find the list of candidates on the council website.

Over the last eighteen months Another Edinburgh is Possible has been developing a list of actions and ideas which we think would contribute to the transformation of public services in the city. We’ve turned these into a series of pledges (see below) which we are asking candidates to consider and sign up to. The list of pledges doesn’t cover every area of the council’s activities, it’s work in progress and we welcome your contributions.

We are also holding an online hustings event on Thursday 21st April from 6.30am until 8pm – register for the event here. We are aiming to make this event as participative as possible – we want candidates to hear your voices. We’d like to group questions together by topic, so while there will be the possibility to ask questions on the 21st, priority will be given to questions notified in advance. If you have a question for the candidates please email it to edinburghjustrecovery@gmail.com and let us know whether you’d prefer to ask the question yourself or to have it read by one of the co-chairs.

Pledges

Introduction

Tonight, in one of the wealthiest cities in the world, children and families in Edinburgh will go to bed cold and hungry. The Edinburgh Poverty Commission reports that in some areas, 27% of residents are officially designated as living in poverty. Meanwhile, according to Oxfam, global billionaires increased their wealth by $5 trillion during the pandemic. In the same period, the collective wealth of the ten richest men in the world doubled. Clearly, we are not all in this together.

Another Edinburgh is Possible is a grassroots campaign linking up community activists, trade unions and Edinburgh Trades Council to build public support for defending and extending local government services. Campaigners have come together to oppose privatisation and wealth flight out of our city. We have surveyed the Edinburgh public on what they think their Council’s priorities should be. Our results showed a clear demand for elected representatives to be closer to the people who elect them, and for officials to be accessible and responsive to residents’ concerns. 

We support a rent cap on private rented properties and a windfall tax on energy companies making tens of billions annually while avoiding taxes which could pay for a move towards sustainable provision. We argue for bringing local government services back in house. We want elected Councillors, not unelected quangos such as the Edinburgh Joint Board, to make transparent decisions on care that affect families, residents and staff across the city. We argue for restoring democratic accountability to the running of our city’s infrastructure.

We argue for the extension of free transport, the maintenance of places for parks and people and not commercial activity, and for care to be removed from the marketplace and made freely available to all in need. 

The Pledges below summarise the key commitments we hope and expect candidates of all parties standing in the May 2022 elections to sign up to. They have been developed from the responses to the OU City survey which we conducted at the beginning of 2021 and at the meetings that we have held over the last 18months.  They do not represent a completely comprehensive list or represent the entirety of our ambition for the city. They describe the least our communities should expect. The Pledges are based on values we think the provision and running of Edinburgh’s services should be firmly based on. If these Pledges are consistent with your ambitions for our city, we would ask that you show your support by putting your name to them.

Local government finance

If elected 

  • Will you commit to reviewing the regressive council tax with a view to replacing it with a progressive alternative? 
  • Will you support calls to in-source services to ensure wealth created in Edinburgh stays in Edinburgh? 
  • Will you commit to building a campaign to force Holyrood and Westminster to provide a settlement consistent with the needs of our city?
  • Will you support calls to end out-sourced public services and to severely limit the use of, and expenditure on private sector consultants?

Transport

If elected

  • Will you campaign to extend free public transport?
  • Will you limit the number of tourist on/off buses allowed to operate?
  • Will you retain & maintain ‘Spaces for people’ as introduced during Covid?

Green spaces

If elected

Will you argue for stopping use of public spaces and parks for commercial activities?

Will you argue for disincentivising and controlling the hard surfacing of private green space i.e. garden space?

Hospital parking

If elected 

  • Will you commit to ending parking charges for all staff, patients and visitors in hospital carparks

Save our care homes

If elected

  • Will you campaign to keep the four threatened council run care homes open?
  • Will you argue for the council to borrow from the Public Loans Board to finance a first-class care service in Edinburgh?

Social Care

If elected 

  • Will you argue that social care is a public good?
  • Will you campaign to take profit out of care?
  • Will you commit to Improve pay & conditions for workers in social care?
  • Will you commit to making care local & accountable?
  • Will you campaign to ensure adequate funding for social care in Edinburgh?
  • Will you commit to making care a free service?
  • Will you commit to campaigning to enusre that the proposed National Care Service is based on the principles outlined above?

Council Housing

If elected

  • Will you commit to improving the system to help prevent the formation of mould, damp and condensation in tenancies?
  • Will you monitor whether the new resolution team is improving the complaints procedure and if not commit to further action in the interests of tenants? 

Housing

If elected 

  • Will you campaign for the return of council housing at volume with a focus on warm, well-ventilated homes, for the reuse of empty homes and for tax policies that encourage the repair and reuse of old homes?

Climate action

If elected 

  • Will you commit to rebuilding a direct works workforce that is well trained and secure and can take the lead on home insulation, retrofitting and district heating?
  • Will you ensure that regulations for new building in the city requires that new houses are built to passive house standards?

Local Democracy and accountability

If elected

  • Will you campaign for the reintroduction pf the public petitions committee?
  • Will you commit to the council ensuring that its systems for responding to the public are fit for purpose? (In response to the Our City Survey many people reported difficulties in making contact, lack of response and failure to deliver on commitments made)

Ventilation in schools and other public buildings

If elected

  • Will you ensure that the council develops and implements policy on healthy working environments so that CO2 monitors, filter systems and good ventilation is the norm?

Cost of living – day of action

Saturday April 2nd is a day of action over the cost of living crisis. There will be protests and actions around the UK. Another Edinburgh is Possible has taken the initiative in calling a mass leafleting and petitioning event at midday outside the St James Quarter. We hope as many people as possible will come and join in and get the message across to a wider audience that we don”t have to suffer and pay the price for the super profits being generated by the oil and gas companies.

We’ll be there until 2pm – even if you can only join for part of the time your presence will be really helpful. Bring a placard if you have time to make one.

Edinburgh TUC meeting

Edinburgh TUC is convening a Zoom meeting which will be attended by Councillor Ricky Henderson who is chair of the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board (EIJB). The EIJB is responsible for the provision of Social Care in Edinburgh. In 2022 it is going to consult with the public on the future of the four Care Homes in Edinburgh and the future of the Social Care Service in Edinburgh. The Zoom meeting will be held on Thursday 20th January 2022 at 6.30pm. It will finish at 8pm. The meeting will be chaired by Carmen Simon, Vice Chair of Edinburgh TUC, who is a social care worker. The meeting will be introduced by representatives of local authority trade unions and myself as Secretary of Edinburgh TUC. Councillor Henderson will then respond to the issues that were raised in the introductions. His response will then be followed by questions from the attendees of the meeting, and Councillor Henderson’s response to these questions.The link to the meeting is: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84839483672… Meeting ID: 848 3948 3672Passcode: 140481

Outside all four threatened care homes today

Another Edinburgh is Possible

Press release – for immediate distribution

16th December 2021

SAVE OUR CARE HOMES

Earlier this month campaigners rallied outside Ferrylee, one of the four publicly run care homes that remains under the threat of closure.  Today the campaign 
raised a banner outside all four homes, Ferrylee, Fords Road, Clovenstone House and Jewel House to send a message to the Edinburgh Integrated Joint Board (EIJB) that we need the homes, we need public and democratically accountable care services, and we won’t be going away.

The EIJB had originally wanted to make the closure decision at its meeting in June 2021.  Resolute campaigning has pushed this back and it now seems likely that there will be no decision until after the local authority elections in June 2022.  In the meantime, residents and workers are left in limbo.  Access photos of today’s protests at https://www.flickr.com/photos/petepolitics/albums/72157720241687474  or via the campaign Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/anotheredinburghispossible

Keeping up the pressure on the EIJB

Drumbrae has been closed. The decision about closure of the other four publicly run residential care homes has been postponed until after the local authority elections in 2022. Had there been no campaign the homes could be already gone. At the last ‘Another Edinburgh is Possible Meeting’ we agreed to keep up the pressure on the EIJB. On 7th December, we organised a solidarity rally outside Ferrylee, one of the threatened homes, to coincide with the December meeting of the board.

In the photos you can see Brian Robertson from Unite making a deputation to the online board meeting.

Brian asked:

Which meeting of board saw the papers and made the decision to consider closing 5 out of the 9 publicly run care homes in Edinburgh?

Is it within the powers of the board to borrow from the Public Loans Board to finance a first class care service in Edinburgh?

The notes for the meeting mention 1000 new care support workers. Is this the number for Edinburgh? Who will they be employed by – the council – the NHS – others?

Reference is made to capacity – are we to understand that capacity in residential care is to be reduced while home care capacity is increased?

The chair declined to respond to any of the questions.

You can watch the whole of the public session of EIJB meeting on the council website