Branch Secretary :

HCA: 13% real terms pay cut for staff - 'generous' pay at top

Pay settlements below inflation


A look at the recently published HCA Annual Report and Financial Statement is revealing. Unite members were recently on strike over pay at the government quango over delays in addressing the Gender Pay Gap identified in the HCA’s own report, pay disparities arising from haphazard salary setting, and the continued trend of below inflation pay settlements (details).


Executives paid over £100,000 each


Evidence in the Report supports the union’s claims that although the majority of staff have experienced an erosion in their salaries of around 13% since 2008, there has been money to pay generously at the top of the organisation. All executives in post for a year or more were paid above £100k, with the chief executive and two other senior officers paid in the region of £210k - £215k, with some also enjoying benefits in kind of almost £9,000.


More recently, Unite has been critical of the HCA for its lack of leadership during pay negotiations, most notably the resolute absence of the chief executive Nick Walkley from pay talks. The union claims that he failed to attend conciliation talks at ACAS and the specially convened meetings ahead of the strike, and many members believe it has led to the failure of talks and evident disunity among the executive.




The Annual Report contains evidence of considerable churn at the top of the organisation, suggesting a struggle to stabilise over the last couple of years. Of eleven board members, four have been replaced since June 2017. There have been four chief executives since the start of 2016, with the latest, Nick Walkley, having been CEO of two highly controversial councils: Barnet and Haringey, the latter familiar to many in the sector for its ill-fated HDV project. There is also insecurity among the executive director layer; two were seconded-in and a further secondee was only recently appointed to a permanent post. At least three further executive directors have left.


In 2016, the HCA underwent a major and controversial restructure resulting in the loss of around a third of staff through redundancies, a ‘voluntary exit’ scheme, and resignations. Figures for the amount paid out overall in exit payments is undisclosed. Despite this, the new CEO has been given the go ahead to grow staff numbers by twice as many or more. While Unite members welcome the creation of jobs, its members remain concerned over a perceived instability and lack of leadership at the agency, the apparent absence of strategy, and gaps in personnel processes through which to protect staff during anticpated changes.


28 July 2018


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