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Date: Thurs 28 April 2011

Scotland’s most vulnerable young people under attack as services face the axe

SCOTLAND’s most vulnerable young people are under attack by government cuts as thousands of staff in the community and voluntary sector face redundancy.

UNISON, Scotland’s largest union in the community and voluntary sector, said urgent action must be taken to halt these drastic cuts and urged the country’s politicians not to throw our young people on the scrapheap.

Councils across the country are being hit with the biggest spending cuts in living memory. No service is safe – but one of the hardest hit is services for young people.

This week alone, more than 2,000 workers from the voluntary and community sector have been threatened with redundancy, while others face attacks on their pay and conditions.

One Scottish charity, Quarriers – which was originally set up to look after orphaned and destitute children – yesterday issued 90 days’ notice to all of its 2,000 staff. The move comes as the charity announced plans to cut its staffing budget by £2.5m – almost twice as much as their own figures (£1.3m) claim are required.

Elsewhere, services to vulnerable young people are also under threat as the Cora Foundation – a voluntary organisation that runs three secure units for young people – issued letters to hundreds of workers threatening them with redundancy. This leaves staff at three of the country’s five secure units (St Phillip’s in Plains; St Mary’s Kenmure in Bishopbriggs; and the Good Shepherd in Bishopton) facing the axe.

If secure units run by Cora close, then the courts will be left with no option but to send young offenders to institutions like Polmont, at a much greater cost to the taxpayer.

UNISON has also condemned moves by youth justice charity, Includem, which has refused to negotiate with the union and has instead unilaterally imposed a 9.5 per cent pay cut on its staff.

Simon Macfarlane, regional organiser with UNISON, said: “We’re calling on Scotland’s political parties to focus on the real issues in the week ahead and to prioritise putting a stop to these outrageous cuts. We also need voluntary organisations to act in a responsible manner, to engage constructively with UNISON and not to capitalise on the situation to make unwarranted attacks on low-paid workers.

“Our members work hard to provide services that make a huge difference to the lives of young people and cutting them will only store up problems for generations to come. Services for our vulnerable young people are vanishing and, once these services are destroyed, they will take a long time to recover. Surely every young person deserves a fair chance?”

ENDS

Notes to editors

UNISON is Scotland’s largest union representing workers in the community and voluntary sector. For more information log on to www.unison-scotland.org.uk For more information contact Simon Macfarlane, regional organiser with UNISON, on 07703 194 132.

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