Monthly Archives: December 2013

Pay Up for Travel Time

A homecare worker was involved in a recent Employment Appeal Tribunal where one of the main issues contested was the payment of travel time between clients.

The judge in the case Whittlestone v BJP Home Support Limited ruledHomecare that the homecare worker (Mrs Whittlestone) was entitled to be paid the National Minimum Wage (NMW) for her travel time between service user appointments.

The verdict also stated that Mrs Whittlestone should have been paid for any sleepover shifts too. This part of the ruling could also be important for our homecare members who have to do this as part of their job. It will also be very significant for members who work in residential care.

This case will strengthen UNISON’s campaign for homecare workers to be paid at least the NMW in their roles.

This may of course have ramification for the way some less scrupulous homecare providers may operate. For example, they might try to get around this by ensuring there is a substantial break between each assignment. If the care worker has sufficient time to go home between each assignment, then it could be argued that the time spent travelling to and from their home will not attract the NMW.

However this had now set a very clear benchmark of what is expected of employers in this sector. If they fail to pay NMW obligations, they will be at risk of Employment Tribunal claims, civil penalties, and criminal sanctions and being publicly named and shamed by HMRC.


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Why The Local Government Pay Claim Is Affordable

UNISON’s claim for ‘a minimum of £1 an hour’ for all local government workers is affordable. Local government employers would only have to meet 45% of the cost if savings by the Treasury from our claim were recycled to local government. That’s without using any reserves, cutting spending on expensive consultants and agency workers – and without taking healthier school budgets into account. Added together, these sources of funding make our claim reasonable and the way to go!

Our Claim 

To reach the Living Wage of £7.65 pence an hour for the lowest paid, we would now need an increase of £1.20 an hour. We want this for all local government workers – to start to restore the 18% of the pay they have lost since the Coalition took office.

 Much of our claim could pay for itself. Our claim would largely fund’ itself through:

  • Increased income for the government from increased tax and National Insurance payments – which could be ‘diverted’ to local government
  • Less government money spent on in-work benefits and tax credits
  • Increased income for the government through more spending on goods and services and therefore higher VAT ‘take’
  • Increased economic activity – more jobs and economic growth
  • Use of relatively healthy school budgets to fund the increase for school staff
  • Less spent on consultants and agency workers by councils
  • Use of some of the additional £2.3 billion placed in council reserves in the last two years

 How much would our claim add to the total pay bill for NJC workers?

 The New Policy Institute (NPI) has undertaken some new research for UNISON which shows that:

  • The cost of increasing pay by £1 an hour for local government workers employed in NJC councils would be £1.26bn
  • With additional Employer National Insurance (ENI), this would be £1.42bn
  • The cost of increasing pay by £1.20 an hour would be £1.51bn
  • With additional employers’ NI, this would be £1.7bn

Higher tax and National Insurance ‘take’ and reduction in benefit costs

 The NPI research shows that:

  • If NJC workers were paid an extra £1 an hour, the extra income from National Insurance paid by employees would be £160m
  • The increased tax ‘take’ by the Treasury would be £340m
  • Reductions in tax credit and benefit costs would be £130m
  • That’s a total government saving of £630m
  • If NJC workers were paid an extra £1.20 an hour, the extra income from National Insurance paid by employees would be £190m
  • The increased tax ‘take’ by the Treasury would be £410m
  • Reductions in tax credit and benefits costs would be £160m
  • That’s a total government saving of £760m

 Income from VAT and indirect taxes

 Higher earnings would mean more spending, so the Treasury would also gain through indirect taxes like VAT

  • If pay was increased by £1 an hour, the Treasury would gain an extra £154m in VAT and  indirect taxes
  • If pay was increased by £1.20 an hour, the Treasury would gain £175m

So how much would local government and schools have to pay?

The table below summarises all the savings to the Treasury and the total cost to local government and schools of £1 and £1.20 pence an hour increases. The Treasury would gain 55% of the pay increase. If recycled to councils, local government would only have to fund 45% of the pay increase.


Schools have healthier budgets!

Around 25% of NJC workers are school staff. School budgets have been frozen and schools are feeling the effects of inflation – but they are not facing massive cuts like councils. This means that our claim is even more affordable for school staff. A proportion of the savings from meeting our claim could be recycled to schools to help meet the cost of our claim.

Reduced spending on agency workers and consultants

  • In 2011/12 councils spent an estimated £1bn on external consultants. That equates to almost the total cost of paying an extra £1 an hour to NJC workers after Treasury savings
  • In 2011, councils spent £1.8bn on agency workers
  • The use of agency workers has risen as many councils adopt ‘short term’ staffing strategies. Cutting just half of this spending would allow councils to meet a large part of the cost of our claim

Council reserves grow fast!

Rather than pay local government workers a decent wage, many councils have chosen to put cash into reserves year after year. Reserves have increased by 20% since 2010/11alone, while NJC pay has fallen by 18%!! In just the last year, reserves grew by £2.6bn – enough to pay everyone an extra £1.20 twice over!! Many councils could afford to meet our claim from their reserves and still have lots of cash to spare for the rainy days ahead when they will need our members to keep services going.

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Fighting Loan Sharks on the Doorstep

The local credit union, YourCU, is taking on doorstep lenders on their ‘own’ turf by getting closer to communities that need to borrow cash in a hurry.

YourCU says the only way to compete with loan sharks is to make themselves easily available to those who need the cash. To do this, the West London-based union is introducing an outreach programme in a bid to get closer to customers.

“Loan sharks are currently winning the battle because they’re on theWilliam Rhodes_ doorstep where people need them,” said YourCU’s William Rhodes. “Credit unions should go out among the people, just like pay day lenders, to get their message across. You can’t expect people to come to us.

“It is vital residents on low incomes have access to affordable finance, a bank account, and advice on how to manage their finances.”

YourCU, which covers Kensington & Chelsea, Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham, Queens Park, Kensal Green and St Mary’s Park in Brent and Queenstown in Wandsworth, provides a safe and ethical way for people to borrow money.

The union holds regular pop-up sessions at Dalgarno Community Centre in north Kensington, Beethoven Community Information Centre in Westminster, Earls Court Health and Wellbeing Centre, and the offices of Kensington & Chelsea TMO at World’s End.

YourCU has also run sessions at the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council’s headquarters, local Jobcentre Plus offices, and is in talks with local church leaders about reaching out to the community.

In addition it has met with social housing providers including the Octavia housing association and Women’s Pioneer Housing and with unions, including the GMB who represent many of Westminster’s street cleaners

“There are currently a lot of politicians and people sitting around talking about this and wringing their hands on how to help people,” added William Rhodes.

“What we need is to be out in the community, where we can best help people by providing a safe and legal alternative to the ‘baseball bat brigade’.

“We need to ensure a way out for people trapped in an endless cycle of debt and 5,000% interest rates, from which many can see no way out.”

“Credit unions will also give more affluent residents in the area an opportunity to invest their money in a venture that will benefit their local community as well as giving them a financial return.”

The Bishop of Kensington recently opened an account with YourCU to support the Church’s bid to tackle payday lenders as part of a church-wide celebration to mark International Credit Union Day.

He visited the union’s pop-up branch at Dalgarno Community Centre following the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call for the Church to build up Britain’s network of credit unions to ‘compete’ payday lenders ‘out of existence’.

There are an estimated 24,500 ‘financially excluded’ households in Kensington & Chelsea alone, each paying a ‘poverty premium’ of up to £1,000 a year through higher borrowing costs, higher bills and lack of access to cheaper deals.

YourCU are members of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and offer flexible loans to suit all budgets to repay on a weekly, two-weekly or monthly basis.

For further information on Your CU visit: or telephone 0207 605 6341 or visit YourCU at 346 High Street, Kensington, W14 8NS.

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Seven Reasons Why UNISON’s Pay Claim is Fair and Just

1. Local government workers have suffered an 18% cut in wages since 2010

A pay freeze and eight years of below inflation pay rises since 1997 mean thousands of local government workers, from across the pay scale, are struggling to make ends meet.

2. Local government: the worst pay and conditions in the public sector

Over half a million, mostly women, mostly part-timers, earn less than the Living Wage. Only in local government and local authority schools are large numbers of public sector employees paid so poorly. No one in local government earns as much for the job they do as other public sector workers doing equivalent jobs elsewhere.

3. We all expect and deserve high quality public services

407,000 local government jobs have gone since 2010. That is the same as 372 jobs disappearing every day. An over-worked, stressed out workforce, stripped to the bare bones cannot provide high quality public services.

And slashing pay and conditions means our members are less likely to act as advocates for their employers. Local government workers are voters and service users too!

4. Politicians from all parties are calling for an end to low pay

Party leaders, ministers and MPs from all parties are calling for a higher National Minimum Wage or the Living Wage. If leading politicians are focussing on the role decent pay can play in raising living standards, surely what is good for other workers should be good enough for those working in local government.

5. Affordability

Many local government workers rely on benefits to pay bills. The taxpayer is subsidising local government to pay poverty wages. Paying all local government workers a Living Wage will boost Treasury coffers by around £0.9 billion every year from increased tax and national insurance take – shifting many off in-work benefits. Our claim is affordable.

6. Boosting your local economy

Outside London, most local government workers live and work in the same area. Every £1 spent in the local economy generates a further 64 pence for the community. Paying local government workers a rise of at least £1 an hour will boost local businesses.

7. The benefits of paying a Living Wage

Paying the Living Wage will enhance the council’s reputation, boost morale and improve productivity. Living Wage Employers report better retention of staff, improved service, and a reduction in absenteeism and in recruitment costs.

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Higher Education Members Stage Second Walkout Over Pay

Union members working in higher education will walk out for a second day today in an increasingly bitter pay row.

What’s This Strike All About?

Politician and college leaders are full of want words the further educationStrikers colleges rolling out the same old clichés about valuing the role that staff play in local communities. But at the same time they appear to be happy to see staff who teach in these colleges working harder and taking home less money to their families every year.

Lecturers have seen their pay fall in value by 15% over the last four years.

This year they have been offered a paltry 0.7% increase on condition that they accept management tearing up national agreements on working conditions.

0.7% at a time when the cost of living is still rising is yet another pay cut in real terms. Letting management tear up national agreements and impose worse local contracts would be disastrous for our local colleges.

Communities deserve and need lecturers who are fairly rewarded and treated properly otherwise they will leave the sector and our colleges will struggle to recruit the best people.

College managers and politicians have lost sight of what it is that makes colleges great – the people who work in them.

UCU (University and College Union) is fighting for a fair deal for their members and supporting all those fighting for a fair deal at work. In the middle of a cost of living crisis it is vital for our communities and for our economy that we support each other to win fair pay.

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