As UNISON members at Alternative Futures Group (AFG) take a third day of strike action today, the union has released figures that reveal that AFG’s raid on staff incomes is unnecessary.
The company has cut care support workers’ top-up payments pay for sleep-in shifts. This is costing some staff as much as £2,000 a year.
The care support workers are only paid at the level of the minimum wage for their regular hours and many are struggling to stay in the care sector due to not being paid adequately at night.
Staff have received great support for their strike action, with a public petition hitting some 13,000 signatures.
AFG receives funding from 15 public authority commissioners across the North West. The amounts commissioners pay toward the cost of employing staff to work sleep-in shifts vary.
However, all but two (Rochdale and Warrington) pay more than the £73.89 per shift that would cover the minimum wage rate for staff.
But AFG does not pay this money to staff. Instead, the company takes 29% for itself – far in excess of non-wage employment costs such as National Insurance and pension contributions.
AFG’s accounts show that the company has high – and rising – overhead costs, Governance and support costs were £7.5m in 2016/17 and are forecast to reach £9m in 2018/19 – a 20% increase in two years.
The accounts also show that AFG pays a higher percentage of its income to top managers than all of its competitors.
AFG’s executive pay policy cost it £221,000 more this year than if it had matched the industry average, and £547,000 more than if it had chosen to match Mencap’s practice on senior management pay.
Other care providers, with similar commissioning arrangements, do pay the minimum wage for sleep-ins. This is the expected practice of both local and central government.
UNISON North West regional convenor Paula Barker said: “AFG is taking an enormous cut out of the public money that is intended for the pay packets of low-wage care staff.
“It is spending a growing amount on company overheads and it chooses to pay their executives more than its competitors do. The company have the wrong priorities and it should instead be investing in their front-line care staff and in the service.
“AFG can’t have it both ways – it can’t raid this money for executive pay and overheads and then say that it can’t pay care workers the minimum wage because other income is ring-fenced.
“We would love AFG to join our Dignity in Social Care Campaign to help argue for fair funding, decent jobs and quality services. But first AFG must do the right thing and reverse these damaging pay cuts.”