Council defends position on Angus warden service

Angus Council has denied any “double dealing” over an agreement reached last week to try to retain warden services at the county’s sheltered housing complexes.

The accusation was made this week by campaign group Angus Against Cuts (AAC), which claimed that since last Thursday’s full council meeting, the wardens - Tenant Support Officers (TSO) - had been told that “they would be sacked by July 1, and most of them would be gone within six to eight weeks.”

Councillors unanimously accepted an amendment, put forward by council leader Iain Gaul, to a report on the county’s sheltered housing provision which proposed scrapping its TSO service to save money while meeting legal requirements for the Scottish Government policy of self-directed support (SDS).

It was agreed to investigate how residents could receive a service either through a new social enterprise, a council scheme fully funded by sheltered housing tenants or an arm’s length trading organisation. A member officer group was also formed to discuss and take forward an alternative plan.

But AAC spokesman Dave Coull hit out at the authority for what he said was “double-dealing” on the council’s part.

He continued: “So much for the ‘open and above board dialogue’ promised. TSOs employed by Angus Council were told their jobs would be gone by July 1. Formal letters of dismissal are to be issued shortly. Their meeting was also told there would be ‘No more discussions with sheltered housing tenants.’”

Mr Gaul, however, said that the authority was adhering to, and progressing, what was agreed at the council meeting.

At this week’s budget setting meeting, councillors were asked to agree a saving of £500k, achieved by reducing the number of staff in the tenancy support service by 28 people by July 1 and reflecting that the current tenancy support service cannot continue, as it is not SDS compliant.

A council spokeswoman added that while service staff have been advised that if the budget proposal was agreed they would be issued with a Risk of Redundancy Notice, that did not mean they would be made redundant. Future employment arrangements would not be known until recommendations for a new model of tenancy support are brought forward in six to eight weeks.

Mr Gaul said: “We have made a commitment to our tenancy support officers that they will be given the best possible opportunity for continuity of employment in a new service. We have to find a solution which addresses the legal requirements of SDS, meets the council’s budget challenges and provides tenants with an affordable and sustainable model of support.”