September 27th, 2016

Council taking on volunteers is ‘immoral’

Updated: 10:01 am, May 07, 2015

TAKING on volunteers to an organisation which is cutting 1,500 staff has been branded ‘immoral’.

Worcestershire County Council is calling on unpaid helpers to join them to support the provision of a range of services.

But the appeal has been criticised by Labour councillor Graham Vickery who said they were ‘very unhappy with the idea’.

He told the Standard: “It’s a topic that’s coming up repeatedly. The programme for replacing people, particularly in libraries, is one they are developing so there is not a lot we can expect to achieve. But we can point out the immorality of it.

“They are going to staff facilities with volunteers. It is the only way the council reckons of keeping front line facilities available and their alternative is to shut them down.”

A total of 857 redundancies were revealed as part of an initial round of savings but last year it was announced a further 650 jobs would go over the next four years. It means the council workforce will shrink from 4,500 to less than 3,000 staff and the organisation itself will be 40 per cent smaller by 2017.

Coun Lucy Hodgson, responsible for localism and communities, said there were a range of volunteering opportunities available through the Act Local programme for individuals or groups in services including archive and archaeology, the arts, community transport, countryside services, libraries and museums.

She added: “We are not seeking to fill redundant posts with volunteers. However, with increasing financial pressure being placed on the council, the support of volunteers has enabled us to continue to deliver certain services which we would otherwise have had no choice but to reduce or remove.

“Many organisations benefit from the time and dedication of volunteers. We are committed to developing, encouraging and supporting volunteer involvement in our work.”