Branch Secretary :

Time to talk about housing association pay says Inman

Incentivised by low pay and insecurity


“We need to avoid the conceit that seems to operate in some parts of the economy where chief executives, executives etc need to be incentivised by higher and higher pay and generous bonuses, but those at the bottom can only be incentivised by low pay and insecurity” writes well known housing figure and former Chartered Institute of Housing president Alison Inman in a significant Inside Housing article echoing many points regularly made by Unite reps in the sector.


Ever growing gap


Over many years in which Chief Executives have received inflation busting pay increases while staff pay and conditions further down the hierarchy have been squeezed have resulted in an ever-growing gap between the housing workforce and senior executives. Workers on local authority pay scales for example have faced a real terms pay cut of more than 20% over a decade.


Living Wage struggle


Many housing workers are experiencing real hardship in current conditions band some are still struggling to force their employers to pay the ‘Living Wage’ such as those at Hestia currently campaigning. Others have only recently won the battle after a Unite campaign, for example members at One Housing Group.


The pandemic has underscored the gulf between from front line workers and senior executives. While acknowledging that executives should be properly rewarded Inman comments, “But so do the people who have put themselves in harm’s way during the past 12 months. Carers, community workers, trades staff have worked so hard and at considerable risk to themselves and their families.”


Housing workers using foodbanks


She reflects the experience of Unite negotiators when she writes “There seems to be a real blind spot and a reluctance to talk openly about pay and other benefits in the sector, about differentials and about the number of people working for housing organisations who are themselves in rent arrears, using foodbanks, unable to make ends meet.” And it is welcome that she questions the role of bonuses in the sector.


All these are important points that Unite reps should be putting before members as part of the process of consulting on pay claims. It is important that members are informed of this intervention; lets get in in our newsletters for members as part of a campaign to make workers pay is discussed this year.


For report on housing association Chief Executive pay see here


Work, voice pay website here.


Paul Kershaw Chair Unite housing workers branch.


February 11th 2021




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