Catastrophic Cuts to Tayside Scientific Services

A vital local public health service faces being torn apart by selfish, short-sighted budget decisions.
Cuts hidden away in the budgets of a number of local councils has left a vital public health service fighting for its life.
Tayside Scientific Services had been a shared service between Dundee City, Angus and Perth & Kinross Councils. It provides chemical and biological testing and analysis to public and private bodies across the region. Fife was also a major customer.
Other councils had recently withdrawn from partnership to become customers only, leaving DCC carrying responsibility for the staff and, building and equipment.
This year’s budget rounds has seen contributions to that service shredded.
Dundee City only offered a flat cash budget going forward, despite clear cost pressures making that a real terms cut of more than 5%.
Fife council has cut its contribution from £126k to just £100k,
Angus has cut from £256k to just £100k and Perth and Kinross has completely cut its previous £190k contribution.
Overall this sees funding for the service cut by £372k to just £526k per year starting next month before any cost pressures are applied.
With unavoidable commitments to building and plant costs, this over 40% cut will have a devastating impact on the staffing of the service and could jeopardise its very existence.
Dundee City Council has been left trying to salvage something from the ruins of these selfish political decisions.
It appears no task force has as yet been set up to rescue this service or the jobs of those who provide it. The staff concerned will face the tender mercies of Dundee City’s new “Managing Workforce Change” policy (see coverage of that elsewhere).
Despite the genuine sympathy of the senior manager sent to inform the staff yesterday, who has promised to look at TUPE protection etc, DCC's lack of commitment to avoiding redundancies was demonstrated by the fact no-one was there from HR to explain what plans they had to maintain their employment.
This is only to be expected from an employer that is cutting pay protection while claiming it will do its best to look at redeployment to avoid actual loss, having shown itself completely incapable of doing so in the past over longer periods of protection.
Unison will continue to fight for the best outcome for its members caught in the middle of this mess.
The politicians across the local councils should hang their heads in shame for their selfish short sighted decisions that have threatened the continuation of what is a vital public service.
Other employees of local councils should take note. We cannot simply wait to see where the axe will fall next.