Skip to main content

Derby social workers lose battle to keep allowances

Social workers in Derby have lost their battle with the city council to keep allowances for the use of private cars, with Unison agreeing to call a halt to industrial action.

Some social workers had received dismissal notices after refusing to sign a “compromise agreement” under which the council offered a one-off payment of up to £1,200 in return for scrapping the monthly allowances of £98.25.

But the council has now reinstated the staff following a deal with Unison to stop the industrial action, in which workers were using public transport or pool cars rather than their own cars. The one-off payment and a reduced mileage allowance of 40p a mile will now go ahead as planned.

In what the union described as a “significant change in emphasis” from bosses, Unison said the council aimed to have pool cars available to all employees requiring a vehicle for work by this time next year. The allowances system will be reviewed over the same period.

Former BASW chair Janet Foulds said it had been a “very stressful” time for social workers in Derby. “There is growing pressure on services and a fear that in the current financial climate really damaging cuts will be made,” Ms Foulds said.

“There is a real commitment among social workers in Derby to do a good job, but they need support to do it properly and the loss of travel allowances and the erosion of terms and conditions is a major worry. It doesn’t help social workers to do the job they’re supposed to be doing.”

In a bid to find savings of £2.1 million, 465 jobs are expected to be axed across the city council. Council leader Harvey Jennings said the allowances agreement demonstrated the need for compromise.

“We are facing hard economic times and it is essential that savings are made where necessary to secure the council as a whole. We expect that everybody involved in the dispute will now return to work as usual,” Mr Jennings said.