Around 50 elderly residents risk losing their homes if Southampton city council decides to close its two remaining residential care homes in April 2020 or sooner, say UNISON and Unite the union. The move – branded as ‘callous and shoddy’ by the two unions – could also see 80 care staff at Holcroft House and Glen Lee lose their jobs. The two unions, who represent staff at the Labour-controlled local authority, have expressed disappointment at the decision.
The public consultation on the care home closures begins on Wednesday (24 October). UNISON and Unite are calling on the council’s Labour administration to work with them to find a viable alternative to the proposed cuts. The unions also plan to work with residents’ families and community campaigners to fight the closure threat.
Unite Southampton branch secretary Mark Wood said:
“We are disgusted with the way unions have been kept totally in the dark and were only informed of the council’s intentions at the same time as the media. The proposal is both shoddy and callous.
“Swingeing government cuts have left the council with difficult decisions to make, but these closures would only save £1.3 million from 2020/21, according to council figures.
“Meanwhile councillors are planning to spend £1 million on solar powered compactor bins. Southampton city council urgently needs to reconsider its priorities.”
Unison Southampton district deputy branch secretary Claire Ransom said:
“These heartless proposals could mean vulnerable residents with dementia are evicted from their homes and moved into private facilities.
“Southampton should learn from the experiences of Reading council, which closed its care homes in the misguided belief private firms would provide the same service for less money.
“But the reality couldn’t have been further from the truth. When Reading’s homes were closed, the fees charged to the council went up. This put huge pressure on budgets, and meant planned savings didn’t happen. Southampton must not make the same mistake.
“Staff affected by the care home closures are mostly women, already on a low wage. We’ll do all we can to save the homes and the jobs of those who work there.”
The unions understand that there is capacity for 34 residents in each home, but that the council has now stopped allowing new admissions. Holcroft House is currently almost full and Glen Lee is at about 50 per cent capacity.
UNISON and Unite have launched a petition on Southampton City Council’s ePetition site asking the council to drop its proposals to close Glen Lee and Holcroft House. The petition can be signed by a person of any age who lives, works of studies in the area of Southampton City Council and is open for signatures until 16 January 2019.
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