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Date: Thurs 11 December 2014

UNISON lambasts council ‘bully-boy’ tactics as councillors threaten closure of mental health charity

UNISON has issued an urgent call to councillors to cease plans to cut a charity’s funding by 40 per cent without any prior consultation.

Councillors are expected to make their decision at a council meeting today (Thursday) based on a report that remains unseen by Glasgow Association for Mental Health.

The charity was notified late Tuesday evening that commissioners want to hold an urgent meeting with the charity today – less than 24 hours before a decision is to be made – based on a fundamentally-flawed report that takes mental health provision in the city back to the 1970s. The city’s most vulnerable now face paying the price with a maximum of 12 weeks of support, regardless of need.

Deborah Dyer, regional organiser for UNISON, said: “GAMH were told in spring this year that their service would be reviewed. This review was ongoing when cuts were announced and in November they were told the report was being rewritten for financial reasons. Since then, there has been no consultation with GAMH on the report or its findings.

“And today, less than 24 hours before a decision is due to be made that will decide the fate of the charity, commissioners call for an urgent meeting. This is nothing short of ‘bully-boy’ tactics and we demand councillors take urgent action to put any decision on hold until full and thorough consultation has been carried out.”

UNISON has fought tirelessly alongside staff, service users and community groups to save the frontline mental health charity from the scale of these devastating cuts.

An independent report commissioned by GAMH shows every pound spent with the charity saves the public purse £6. That means for an annual investment of £2.1 million, the city saves £11.1 million.

A demonstration is being held today in George Square to call on councilors to protect this essential service.

Deborah Dyer, regional organiser for UNISON Scotland, said: “The financial cost if GAMH is to close is staggering. But while the city stands to lose millions of pounds each year, the cost to the most vulnerable people of Glasgow is far greater. Those suffering from mental health issues have varied and complex needs and basing provision on cost alone is farcical. The model being proposed in the report is not a recovery model but a service model and is a backward step.

“The work that GAMH carry out across the city saves more than just money - it saves lives - and we can’t turn our backs on the people who rely on this essential service. GAMH cannot continue to provide a city-wide service on the budget suggested and, given the city stands to lose millions through the closure of this charity, serious questions have to be raised about the council’s fiscal competence. Councillors face making a life or death decision and we want them to stand up for the city’s most vulnerable - save GAMH, save public money and, most importantly, save lives.”

In reality they are abandoning people with mental health issues in the city," she said. "They want GAMH to provide a citywide service, but that will not be possible with the budget suggested. Given the report which says the charity is currently saving the city £11.1m, this raises questions about the council's fiscal competence."In reality they are abandoning people with mental health issues in the city," she said. "They want GAMH to provide a citywide service, but that will not be possible with the budget suggested. Given the report which says the charity is currently saving the city £11.1m, this raises questions about the council's fiscal competence."

· Since 01/04/07 GAMH has faced direct reductions in their funding amounting to 11%

· From 1/4/07 – 1/4/14 there has been no increase in the funding to GAMH, Taking into account the inflationary effect and no uplifts, the real value of the funding provided to GAMH has decreased in value by 25%.

The independent report commissioned by GAMH – Housing Support Service Social Return on Investment – states: “Using the SROI framework to calculate the total value created for these services gave an SROI index figure of 1:6. So for every pound spent on these services, the social return over the full five years for which the impact of the service was measured was £6. In financial terms this means that for the annual investment of £2.1 million, a full value over the period is created of £11.1 million”

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