Cabinet to consider compensation boost

A boost to compensation for staff transferring from Somerset County Council to a charity supporting vulnerable people will be discussed at a key meeting next week.

Around 1,200 members of staff in the learning disabilities service are on track to transfer to a new social enterprise charity created in partnership with Dimensions in April. Dimensions has already notified staff that it will be consulting over existing terms and conditions.

And a compensation fund set up by Cabinet members last year to offset any changes to pay and conditions, could be in line for an increase, thanks to extra financial flexibility as a result of the major social care funding announced by the Government in the budget on Wednesday.

The terms of the compensation package remains confidential until the staff complete their transfer on 1 April. But Council Leader John Osman said he had recognised the uncertainty staff, and those using the service, face.

“I have had concerns expressed by some of those using this service that they want our caring staff to remain working with them. To help this, we created a significant fund to pay compensation to transferring staff – and I would like Cabinet on Wednesday to consider boosting that even further.  Following the government announcement we may be able to look at whether we can increase that fund from other sources.

“We are trying to do our best in terms of people using our service and also our transferring staff.  I hope that this compensation fund can be increased and that this will enable this to happen. The move from the Council to the social enterprise is all about getting better outcomes and improving the lives of those using our services.

“I do understand and acknowledge the level of anxiety and upset but we must not lose sight of the fact that we are doing the right thing for those using our services.”

The Chancellor’s recent announcement for extra funding for under pressure social care services means that Somerset will gain an extra £11m for the coming financial year. Most of that funding will be used to help the health service with its bed-blocking problems, to fulfil government conditions on how the money will be spent and to help protect the county’s fragile care homes providers.