YCB response to Barnet UNISON

///YCB response to Barnet UNISON

Barnet UNISON response and recommendations – overall position:

“UNISON is opposed to the proposed 9.5% cut to staff salaries from 1st April 2014″

Specifically:

UNISON reiterates its recommendations from May 2013.

YCB response:   These recommendations are not relevant to this current consultation and were comprehensively responded to last year.

 

In addition UNISON now recommends:

  • Review post of Director of Growth and Development.
  • YCB response:   As this role is not funded by YCB the feedback is unclear how this will contribute to the saving required within Your Choice.
  • Retain Equal Pay proof salary structure unifying the whole workforce.
  • YCB response:   If this means retaining the current salary structure we have explained both in the consultation paper and in bullet point four below why we are moving away from this. Please refer to point 12 for Equality Impact clarification.
  • Release the detail on the spot pay grades.
  • YCB response: These have been sent to every YCB staff member in their personal letter of 20 March 2014.
  • Detail the introduction of the new pay rates and the meaning for the April salary. The current predicament for Your Choice Barnet (YCB) as expressed in the latest consultation exercise is that they are seeking to recoup £400,000.
  • YCB response: The details of the new pay rates have been explained to YCB staff in personal letters of 20 March 2014 setting out in full their confidential individual circumstances and options. The reason for this proposal is that YCB needs to make savings to offset a current deficit of £400,000k plus build in a small contingency against future cuts in funding. The YCB Board decisions agreed on 19 March 2014 are as follows:
  • A reduction in current salaries of 9.5% for YCB staff
  • No other changes to terms and conditions
  • Future salary increases will be determined based on benchmarking every two years and affordability. Increases would only be due if the business can afford to increase salary costs which will depend upon the financial position at that time
  • There will be no spinal points or salary ranges and in their place will be spot salaries.

 

Since the most favoured option of cutting staff salaries also mentions a need to grow business, and to maintain or improve staff salaries, we can only conclude there is no evidence this pay cut will be sufficient to protect future business and our members’ terms and conditions.

YCB response:The purpose of the pay cuts is to make the services more cost-effective as our charges will be covering our salary costs. YCB will as a result be more affordable and therefore more competitive in the marketplace in terms of growing the business. Making these changes now will ensure that the business is in a financially viable position from which we can develop and grow our services to safeguard the long-term future of the organisation.

 

When asked what work is being carried out to predict or model the effects of the new Care Bill, it became clear no such work has been carried out.

YCB response:The Care Bill is due to be implemented in 2015 and is in three parts, parts 1 and 2 of which will have the greatest impact for YCB. Part 1 reforms how care and support is funded, but fundamentally does not change the fact that people will be paying for their care with Personal Budgets. This will continue, however there are some key issues for YCB to consider one being the ‘care cost cap’. The cap on the care costs that people will pay aims to give people peace of mind by protecting them from catastrophic costs. This will have the greatest impact on those most likely to continue to be receiving care for the long term. For a great majority of our service users they are likely to be dependent on adult care services all their lives. It therefore makes sense for YCB to focus its efforts on growth within specialist services for people with higher needs.

Part 2 of the Bill was largely in response to the Francis Report published in February 2013 calling for a system wide response across health and care to ensure the failures of the Mid Staffs NHS Foundation Trust do not happen again. In our response to this YCB is striving for improved standards by focusing on developing and embedding quality assurance processes within services. We plan to do this by involving and training relatives and service users to review our own services. In May we are bringing in ‘experts by experience’, people with learning disabilities called Quality Checkers to assess the quality of our services. The staff panel has also started to carry out audits in key areas such as medication, now completed in three services.

It must be noted that legislation such as the Care Bill is a high level document that broadly establishes a vision, set of requirements and direction of travel. How legislation will be applied will very much depend on local decision making which is yet to be determined. So for example there are a number of general duties including the following:

  • For local authorities to promote wellbeing and independence, rather than waiting for people to reach crisis points. This embeds a focus on prevention
  • For local authorities to carry out their care and support functions with the aim of integrating services with those provided by the NHS or other health related services such as housing. YCB is in a good position to do this being part of a Group which encompasses the provision of social housing.

There are a great many clauses within the Care Bill and apart from a general appraisal at this point, it is too early to fully assess and evaluate the total impact on our services. Our intention is to ensure we are well placed to feed in to and help direct the services that are commissioned within Barnet and find workable solutions for Barnet and other local authorities.

 

The £400,000 from staff salaries needed by YCB consists of a need to make savings and to build in a contingency. However, what is left out of the consultation document is the cost of people not agreeing to a wage cut. It beggars belief that YCB never costed this.

YCB response: We were always aware of this risk but had hoped that understanding the situation employees would accept the changes so that we did not need to implement further reductions. The Board have now agreed that we will use some of our contingency budget to support this process and ensure those agreeing to the change are not treated less favourably than those who do not agree.

 

Additionally the responses by YCB to staff regarding the introduction of its proposal is confusing and exacerbating their already considerable stress and low morale, as in “If this proceeds in April you will receive two weeks at the existing rate and two weeks at the new rate.”

YCB response:   We have acknowledged this mistake and clarified the position to staff.

 

UNISON recommends YCB provides absolute clarity about what staff can expect.

YCB response:   The details of the new pay rates have been explained to YCB staff in personal letters of 20 March 2014 setting out in full their confidential individual circumstances and options.

 

What has become clear through the consultation exercise is that there is no logical salary structure.

YCB response:   This is not accurate. As clearly explained, there will be no spinal points or salary ranges and in their place will be spot salaries.

 

Whereas new starters progressed through the grade, there is now no proposal for moving people from lower rates of pay for the same job. Potentially we will now have 5 different rates of pay for the same job. This does not protect the employer from Equal Pay claims.

YCB response:   We refute this claim. We will be protecting existing staff salaries which for many will continue to be above the new staff spot salaries for the jobs.

 

10 UNISON has requested an Equality Impact Assessment for the effect of thisbreakdown of pay. We have not yet received this.

YCB response: The Equality Impact Assessment was sent to UNISON on 5 March.

 

11 UNISON has also requested a breakdown of pay for each post. We have received the hourly rate of pay reflecting 1 spinal column point only for each job title.

YCB response: We have provided the rate on the basis of average pay.

 

12 In fact UNISON has alerted YCB to the risk of being an associated employer in The Barnet Group and with LBB and opening itself up to an Equal Pay challenge. Weare still exploring this issue.

YCB response: The pay arrangements we propose do not breach equality law. In accordance with our legal responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 we have assessed the impact of these changes on staff by undertaking an Impact Assessment and Equality Analysis which was sent to UNISON on 5 March 2014. This analysis shows that the changes being proposed and recommended will not have a disproportionate effect on any individuals having ‘protected characteristics’ as defined in the Act, and any factors identified have been mitigated so far as reasonably possible.

The Equality Act 2010 (EqA 2010) implements the principle that men and women should receive equal pay for equal work. However, there are often situations where men and women in comparable jobs, working for the same, or associated employers, are paid different amounts. Provided the employer can show that any differences in pay are as a result of factors that are not related to a person’s sex then this will not be a breach of the law. This is called the ‘genuine market factor’ in the Act. Pay benchmarking, which takes into account location and market forces (both of which can be material factor defences), is often cited as a reason for pay differences that are not sex discriminatory. Financial and budgetary constraints are also justifiable as a material factor defence as are pay protection arrangements.

 

13 UNISON and staff still do not know what all the proposed rates of pay are for all the positions in YCB.

YCB response: For existing staff rates of pay for individuals are by definition confidential and cannot be widely distributed; however this information has now been sent out to all staff clearly explaining their salaries. As regards new staff, the Board have agreed that going forward spot salaries for all newly vacant posts will be based on 12.5% below the bottom of the spinal point scale or equal to the London Living Wage if below it. After successful completion of the probationary period the spot salary will go up to 9.5% lower than the bottom spinal point.

The Board also agreed to review job descriptions across all YCB services so that in future all JDs and person descriptions more accurately reflect the level of responsibility and type of activities undertaken in each service. This would be taken into consideration in future benchmarking exercises and could result in some roles increasing in salary.

 

14 UNISON recommends that YCB provides a salary structure which is transparent to all members of staff and affords each member of staff equality of opportunity.

YCB response: As referenced in points 2, 7 and 12 above this has been provided.

 

15 Little work seems to have been done to reduce the numbers of Agency and As and When staff – to move colleagues who have been working well in the service into more permanent positions.

YCB response:   We will always need to use Agency and As and When staffbecause of the fluctuating utilisation of our services, however we will always aim to keep usage to a minimum. There has been considerable usage over the past few months due to the restructure in our services, which has meant keeping posts vacant so that staff who are at risk have had the opportunity to apply for these posts. This should reduce once we are fully staffed again and all vacancies filled.

 

16 UNISON is unclear why there is a need for a Director of Social Care employed by The Barnet Group. The core business of Barnet Homes is not providing Social Care. The deletion of this post is one easy saving to make.

YCB response: The post of Director of Care and Support (not Social Care) is about achieving economies of scale across the whole Barnet Group, which includes Sheltered Housing and Assist as well as YCB. A significant part of the role will be working with the Director of Growth and Development in maximising on-going and new business in Care and Support. The new Director has considerable experience and a track record of leading on growth; this salary has also been benchmarked and YCB’s contribution will reduce by 9.5%. Developing new income streams will support the future financial viability of YCB.

 

17 The lack of evidence and therefore unhelpful speculations from YCB about the ability for the service to grow raises serious doubt as to whether the post of Director of Growth and Development for The Barnet Group is sustainable.

YCB response: The post of Director of Growth and Development did not form part of this consultation and is therefore irrelevant (but see YCB response to point 16 above).

 

18 Ultimately the crisis for YCB has been created by the fact of it being a Local Authority Trading Company. This has led to it being put into the position of taking out a £1 million commercial loan from Barnet Homes requiring a 6% interest repayment. We believe the conditions of this loan need to be explored further with Barnet Homes and renegotiated.

YCB response:The Barnet Homes loan was to help fund the transition in the way YCB was being paid (from payment in advance in year 1 to payment in arrears in year 2) which resulted in a cash flow issue. This is therefore a ‘catch up’ position not an actual deficit position. The £400k deficit relates exclusively to actual income and expenditure and is quite separate from the loan arrangement. Even if the loan repayments were re-negotiated this level of saving would still be required.

2015-02-26T11:35:44+00:00 March 24th, 2014|
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