Up to 50,000 social care workers’ jobs could be at risk as council budgets are slashed by 28%, a union leader has warned.
Brian Strutton, national secretary for public services at GMB, believes up to one in five of the 250,000 workers employed by local government in social care are facing redundancy.
He said the future for social care workers was “very, very bleak”.
“The whole workforce has got the sword of Damocles hanging over it, everybody is waiting to see where it’s going to fall,” Strutton said. “Nobody can work properly in a caring profession with all this worry hanging over them.”
The GMB boss was responding to the comprehensive spending review announced by chancellor George Osborne, which signalled budget cuts of 28% to councils over the next four years as part of the government’s plan to reduce the UK’s record deficit of £109bn.
The Local Government Association predicts that in local government in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, as many as 100,000 jobs will be cut, or 10% of the workforce.
When asked if the same proportion would apply to the social care workforce – that 25,000 of the 250,000 social care workers employed by councils could face the dole – Jon Sutcliffe, principal strategic adviser for Local Government Employers, said “people could draw their own conclusions”.
He said that in addition to job cuts, councils would look at ways of making savings by overhauling terms and conditions, and may cut benefits such as car allowances and sick pay.
Strutton went on to explain his prediction of 50,000 redundancies, adding that it was based on reports from union officials across the country.
“Councillors are going to be making choices about which frontline services are going to be hit and which ones are going to be saved on the basis of which will give them the most votes next May [in local elections]. Social care is often lower down the list that the high visibility services such as street cleaning,” he said.
Read Community Care’s special report on the comprehensive spending review