Branch Secretary : suz.muna.unite@gmail.com
  

Centrepoint pay cut rejected

 

Centrepoint management offer real terms pay cut

 

Management at the homelessness agency Centrepoint offered their workers a real terms pay cut at a meeting with Unite last week.  This would be the third pay cut in successive years for hard pressed staff.  Centrepoint’s accounts show that spending on executive pay went up by 6.47% in the last year alone but they told Unite that this was not “interesting.” No wonder feedback from staff so far has indicated disappointment with the latest offer and increasing anger.  Unite will be consulting further over the next few weeks with the possibility of industrial action if the offer is not substantially increased

 

5% clearly affordable

 

Unite rejected the miserable pay offer of 2% which is clearly less than the inflation rate of 2.4% and far less than the increases that executives awarded themselves last year.  Following a consultation with staff, Unite have lodged a claim for a 5% increase.  This is clearly affordable for the organisation and does not fully compensate staff for the real income they have lost in recent years.  Centrepoint’s own figures reveal that average staff pay has been reduced by £651 this year.

 

 

 

There are sufficient funds to pay the claim in full.  Centrepoint’s own figures show that their income was £32.7m last year but their spending was £31.65m, leaving a difference of over £1m.  This would more than pay for the 5% that Unite are demanding with change to spare. 

 

Increased reserves

 

Centrepoint also increased reserves by 17% last year and by 25% the year before!  Its income is rising year on year.  The Annual report shows how targets have been exceeded and paints a picture of unqualified success and growth.

 

 

Often the reason given for opposing pay increases is that they might become unsustainable in the future but rarely do senior management consider that current low pay is making it unsustainable for members to remain with Centrepoint.  This is what drives the unacceptably high levels of turnover in staff which in turn impacts on the quality of service and pressure on existing staff to bear the brunt of low staffing levels and over reliance on locums.

 

Staff in debt

 

Reporting a survey of Centrepoint staff carried out by Unite a few years ago we wrote,

 

High and highly demanding workloads are affecting our members' health and well-being, leading to burnout and family breakdown. Poor pay is leading to rising debt levels and inevitably, members are considering leaving. In our survey, 87% of respondents said that they were now in debt and 70% were thinking of leaving.

 

There is no reason to believe matters will have improved since then.  We know that the squeeze on pay by social housing organisations has resulted in an increase in the problem of homelessness among their own staff, as evidenced by the survey carried out by Inside Housing.  Yet the organisation’s annual report, which devotes seventy pages to highlighting the many ‘successes’ of the organisation and its links with royalty, devotes no space at all to the increasing hardship faced by its own staff or to the need to reward staff properly.

 

Growth beyond targets

 

In introducing this year’s Annual Report, Centrepoint’s CEO, Seyi Obakin, states “We continue to grow our accommodation, employment and mental health services across England. At the same time, our policy influence and awareness in the media and online has grown beyond the ambitious targets we set for ourselves. From this strong foundation, we will be ambitious for the young people we work so hard to support."

 

Succesive below inflation pay increases

 

This should not be achieved at the cost of successive below inflation pay increases for staff! Staff are the engine driving success, now they need to be rewarded.

 

In common with several large homelessness agencies, Centrepoint increasingly adopts a commercial approach targeting growth above all else.  Responding to a recent report commissioned by St Mungos a Unite member who works for homelessness agency commented,

 

…unfortunately some [homelessness agencies] are also moving to deskill services and attack the pay and conditions of their staff.  As well as putting unacceptable strain on workers, who are certainly not well paid, this undermines the all important quality of service for a truly vulnerable group of service users.  Competing with each other in a competitive race to the bottom to provide the cheapest service may help the careers of senior executives but does nothing for homeless people.

 

Commercialisation

 

It is time for senior executives and boards of homelessness agencies to listen to their staff and prioritise the quality of service and decent pay and conditions for staff who work in difficult conditions to deliver the best possible service for extremely vulnerable clients.

 

Unite believes that decent pay increases should be a priority not an add on.  If you agree join the fight for five!

 

Unite in Centrepoint 27th April 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

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