A London-based housing association at the centre of a dispute over plans to reduce staff pay across its care and support division says it must change if it’s to protect “vital services to vulnerable people”.
Metropolitan Housing Partnership is half way through a 90-day consultation with its 870 care and support staff about changes to terms, conditions, pay and job roles, but insists the changes are required to ensure Metropolitan remains in the care and support business.
The changes come as councils and health authorities re-commission care and support contracts for less, forcing some landlords into consortiums and most into redundancies or staff pay cuts or both to re-win contracts.
The proposed salary cuts at Metropolitan, which range from 10% to up to 40%, have so far been rejected by Unison, however Metropolitan says it’s “more than willing to review alternative proposals and is continuing to consult with Unison and its staff”.
A Metropolitan spokesperson said: “During this time we will discuss alternatives with Unison and publish a final approach to staff at the end of the 90 day consultation period. We will not be publishing any amendments to our proposals until the end of the consultation period. However, we must be clear that these changes are required in order to improve our competitiveness and ensure Metropolitan can remain committed to care and support.”
It notes that in 2007, a supporting people contract in London commonly paid a care and support provider in the region of £25 p/h. Now, the majority of contracts pay, or will soon pay, in the region of £16 or less p/h. “We have to be able price our services accordingly in order to bid for these contracts and ultimately to continue to deliver these services,” said the spokesperson.
Aniekan Umoren, Metropolitan’s executive director of customer services, says Metropolitan has remained committed to care and support whilst other housing associations are leaving the sector.
She said: “We recognise this is a difficult time for the staff that are affected and appreciate the significant contribution made by Unison and our staff representative groups as part of the consultation process. Unison and staff representatives have been and continue to be fully involved in this process.
“The stark reality is that the care and support market has changed dramatically. Less money is available to fund care and support services for vulnerable people and commissioners are expecting us to deliver contracts at a much lower price. 80% of our care and support costs are for staffing, and it is essential that we set pay at a rate that is comparable to the market. The proposed reward packages are in line with the London Living Wage.
“We are simplifying our structure and reducing the different types of job profiles and job titles to enable us to be more flexible in future. This change will not mean a reduction in the front line staff numbers. The proposed structure has 10 different roles. Our staff will be able to deliver a range of support, care or housing management functions, which will enable us to be more successful in winning bids – therefore protecting jobs.”