Voluntary redundancy offered to top social workers in Birmingham

Senior social workers at Birmingham Council are being offered voluntary redundancy as part of a restructure of the authority’s adult services.

The council plans to axe 35 team manager and 53 assistant team manager posts, according to the city’s Unison branch.

But, in response to a formal request made by Unison, the council is offering voluntary redundancies to senior social workers so that team or assistant team managers with social work qualifications may be able to take over their roles.

Caroline Johnson, assistant branch secretary at Unison Birmingham, said social workers would not be affected unless they wanted to leave.

“It makes sense to allow any social workers who want to go to leave, to create bumping [job replacement] opportunities for team managers,” she said.

A spokesperson for Birmingham Council said the restructure was part of the authority’s ten year “business transformation programme”, which has already led to the closure of numerous council-run care homes. The programme was launched in 2006 in an attempt to achieve £1bn in efficiency savings over 10 years.

“These proposals are not about reducing the number of social worker practitioners within the service,” the spokesperson added.

“We are in fact aiming to enhance our social worker presence, not diminish it. We are creating a new senior practitioner role, which is a non-managerial role.”

Unison members at Birmingham Council voted to take industrial action in October last year after nine council-owned care homes closed and 47 of its members in adult services were made redundant.

Earlier this month, the council announced it was putting an extra £100m into frontline social work for children and young people following widespread concerns over its performance in safeguarding.

However, the jobs of up to 1,300 residential care workers, care assistants, administrators and other staff in children’s homes were declared “at risk” of redundancy as a result.

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