Branch Secretary :

L&Q deny staff their bonus

£190m surplus this year


London housing association L&Q angered staff last week when it announced it would not pay them a bonus this year following an announcement that its projected surplus would be cut by £158 million.


Having seen their profits rise year after year L&Q has warned investors that its surplus will fall to £190m this year; last year its surplus was a record £348m.  That is still a bumper surplus! Even the lower revised surplus for this year, would have been a record as recently as 2015. L&Q’s management explain they have “put in a lot of buffers for ourselves.”  They don’t mean the majority of the workforce when they use the word ‘ourselves’, they mean senior management.


Minimal pay rises


The workforce at L&Q who have had to endure minimal pay rises or pay freezes during the years of bumper surpluses now have their bonuses stopped because what is still projected to be a huge surplus isn’t as big as projected!



Senior exec pay is not so tightly restricted!  L&Q CEO David Montague has seen his pay rise by a massive 74% since 2010. He is now on a cool £348,230.


One Unite member said, “it is quite clear that our senior management have no idea what it’s like to live in London on a typical L&Q salary.” This is why it is so important that staff achieve the full 5% this year.



Can L&Q afford a 5% pay rise?


L&Q has repeatedly made far more money than other associations in recent years.  Last year Peabody had the next biggest surplus.  At £175.41m that is still less than L&Q’s revised surplus for this year.  If the projected L&Q surplus is still higher than the next most profitable association there is no good reason to hit staff in the pocket. L&Q can clearly afford a serious pay rise.


Management point to a number of factors behind the dip in surplus including market conditions for open market sales and increased spending on safety post Grenfell. 


Exposure to market risk is one of the major problems which threaten the whole sector as it has become increasingly commercial and financialised. In that sense, L&Q are a good barometer for other Housing Associations. L&Q is a huge organisation who have become a corporate giant with an ever increasing focus on private sales which has left them exposed to the ups and downs of the market. Staff and residents will not meekly accept paying the price when managements commercial bets don’t work out.


Recruitment freeze


L&Q have made great steps forward during the boom years to become a £bn turnover organisation and despite this recent financial "set back" L&Q's chief finance officer recently maintained "..long-term corporate objectives remain achievable…" But this seems to be at the expense of further austerity for staff as they have now been told that as well as not paying a bonus this year there will be a freeze on recruitment and a delay in stock improvement. This is an issue that will also affect tenants. 


Last week L&Q put out a statement on their website warning staff of Unite's activity fighting for a decent pay rise by drawing attention to the fact that while Unite has members in L&Q it is not ‘recognised’ by management for consultation. This unusual step shows that senior management feel under fire. Unite will continue to fight on this issue and continue to represent members interests. We think that L&Q should pay up now! Don't you?


Nick Auvache 13th February 2019



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