- 2016 National Delegate Conference
- 1 March 2016
On 8 July 2015, George Osborne stood up in Parliament at 12:30pm to deliver his Summer Budget speech. One of the announcements in that speech was: “I am today introducing a new National Living Wage. We’ve set it to reach £9 an hour by 2020. The new National Living Wage will be compulsory. Working people aged 25 and over will receive it starting next April, at the rate of £7.20”.
When tenders for contracts were submitted to local authorities and other funders, this increase never figured in any equation that was submitted by service providers and charities. From their perspective this is now a burden that they will have to shoulder and in some cases funding for the increase will come out of the organisations reserves, leaving them and the vulnerable individuals supported by the third sector even more vulnerable. In other organisations they are now targeting terms and conditions to reduce costs. There have been no funding increases from Westminster, devolved governments or local authorities to ease the burden of their financial commitment to pay the increase.
Social care is the one service that is feeling the strain through budget cuts that not only affects the service users but the staff that provide the care and support, terms and conditions are abysmal in many organisations, poor pay scales and no hope of improvement in the future. If additional funding is not available then they will only deteriorate further.
This announcement was received by those that would benefit with great thanks, raising the hourly rate of those that would qualify by 50p an hour, this for our members over 25 on minimum wage was brilliant, but at what cost? The young members of UNISON below the 25 age threshold will still be on minimum wage. Tax credits are also at risk as the increase in hourly rate will affect the threshold at which the Tax credits are payable, for members the increase could mean that the benefits of Tax credits will be reduced, so a no win situation.
The Third Sector is being hit the hardest with these changes, it has been stated by the Chancellor that local authorities in England can increase council tax by 2% to cover this increase, but we need to be assured that this additional funding with be cascaded to the Not for Profit Organisations and charities to offset the cost of implementing this mandatory wage increase otherwise the current poor terms & conditions will be further trimmed to the bone. Is it not a fair society that rewards those workers that are supporting the most vulnerable in society with equitable pay rates and decent terms and conditions?
The big question is: As the wage increases and there are no terms & conditions of employment left to cut, what is the next step in the decline of social care and the future of members that will be unable to sustain their own survival in a profession that has a poor understanding of the requirements of members roles in support of the vulnerable individuals the length and breadth of the United Kingdom. This is not only an issue for those who work in the community and voluntary sectors. All UNISON members will be part of families and communities who rely on well trained, committed and appropriately rewarded staff who provide social care and support.
Conference calls on the National Executive Council to:
1)Develop a national campaign to support the Community & Voluntary Sector to raise awareness of the funding issues in relation to meeting the legislated increase to salaries made law by Westminster and the detrimental effects this is having on workers, families and communities;
2)Work with Labour Link to lobby MPs, devolved governments and local authorities to establish additional funding to assist organisations in the Third Sector with the mandatory increase in their wage bills for the benefit of all those who give and receive social care and support.