JOBS are to be axed by South Tyneside Council as its welfare services are streamlined.
The council’s welfare rights service is to be merged with South Tyneside Homes’ welfare reform team.
Council bosses say the aim of the merger is to provide a single “integrated and proactive” service, but it will also lead to the two teams’ joint workforce being cut by almost a third.
The equivalent of eight full-time posts and one part-time one will be shed to create the new 18-strong team, but that reduction includes three roles currently vacant.
Merv Butler, one of the public-sector union Unison’s officials for the borough, said he hopes the coming job losses can be achieved by deleting vacant posts and voluntary redundancies.
He said: “Unison is currently in consultation with the council and South Tyneside Homes about this proposal.
“We can confirm the level of job losses, and we hope that some of this can be achieved through deleting vacant posts and applications for voluntary redundancy.
“We are supporting our members through the process, and this will result in a transfer of the council staff to South Tyneside Homes.”
Formal consultation briefings have already taken place with staff and one to one sessions with employees are set to begin this week.
A spokeswoman for the council and South Tyneside Homes said: “The new service will offer a number of benefits and focus on preventative work, while maintaining expert, specialist resources where they are needed.
“It will provide a universal advice service with more opportunities to link in with wider council initiatives such as health and social care pioneer and public health developments.
“The new team will have the ability to focus resources on sustaining tenancies rather than dealing with residents when they reach crisis point.”
She added: “We are very conscious that changes of this nature can be unsettling for those involved, and we are doing all we can to minimise the impact on staff.
“We are inviting applications for early retirement and voluntary redundancy and have already received several expressions of interest.”
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