AFG refuse to accept petition over £90 a week pay cut
Support workers, service users’ families and councillors were refused the opportunity to submit a petition signed by over 13,000 people at the Alternative Futures Group (AFG) Headquarters in Prescot.
The petition calls for AFG not to go through with their controversial plan to remove top-up payments for sleep-in shifts. The planned cut will affect thousands of staff across the North West and cost some as much as £90 a week, or £4500 a year. AFG have announced that they will stop making the payments in January despite there being no cut in the funding that they are receiving from local councils.
The proposal has met widespread opposition from staff, service users’ families and the wider public. A small delegation had hoped to be able to submit the petition to AFG’s trustees on Wednesday, but AFG turned them away and would not accept the petition.
Local councillors from Knowsley were part of the delegation today, and a message of support was received from Liverpool City Region metro mayor Steve Rotheram. Campaigners are due to meet with Liverpool City mayor Joe Anderson later this week.
Louise, a support worker from Rochdale said:
“I do eight sleeps a month and usually receive about £150 in top-up. I’m really, really angry about the plans to remove it. Without this money, my car insurance won’t get paid. We will end up dipping into savings. We won’t be able to do decorating or go on holiday. We usually catch up on bills in the first month after Christmas, after buying all the presents, so this will have a big knock on effect.
“I love my service users and the house I work in. I don’t want to have to look elsewhere for work.”
Sam, a support worker from Lancaster said:
“I do three sleeps a week which gives me £350 – £400 a month, so we are talking thousands a year I am set to lose. The money will be gone but I will still have the bills to pay.
“I’ve no idea what I will do. It will come down to me looking for work elsewhere. I’ve always worked in care and I love the people I work with. But I hardly see my husband as it is because I work so many hours. I miss out on that family time with the children and grandchildren”
Ryan, a support worker from Merseyside said:
“I do two or three sleeps a week so stand to lose £240 - £360 a month. That means having to prioritise which bills are getting paid and which I can’t afford. I split everything 50/50 with my partner but losing top-ups might mean that my partner will have to pay more, which will put a strain on our relationship and I will feel guilty about it. But at least I’ve got someone to fall back on. Many of my colleagues are single parents and it’s them I worry about.
“People have been talking about leaving, going to other jobs that pay more than minimum wage. Many will be taking on more shifts over Christmas and losing that family time, just to prepare for the loss of money when top-ups are removed in January.
“The irony is that part of our jobs is helping service users to manage their own money, helping them to pay bills and budget their shopping. Yet we will be struggling to do this ourselves!”
UNISON North West Regional Organiser Tim Ellis said:
“There is tremendous opposition to AFG’s plan to cut support workers’ incomes – not just from the workers affected but from the service users’ friends and families too. The public response to the petition has been phenomenal.
“We’re disappointed that AFG have refused to accept the petition or speak to staff and service users’ families about their concerns. They had an opportunity to engage with people, but instead chose to put their heads in the sand and try to ignore them. Pressure for AFG to change course is only going to grow, and there is increasing interest and concern in this issue from leading local politicians.
“AFG have not had their funding cut by council commissioners and they are no worse off than they expected to be. They are acting hastily and opportunistically in attacking support workers’ pay.
“The cuts will cause considerable hardship for support workers and some will have to consider leaving their role in care.
“AFG claim to be fully aware of the financial consequences for their staff. If they truly are, they should stop this unnecessary cut to low-paid workers’ living standards.”
The petition can be viewed and signed at: https://campaign.goingtowork.org.uk/petitions/care-at-night-pay-us-right
UNISON is seeking to clarify the law as it relates to pay and sleep-in shifts, arguing that they should count as working time and be paid at hourly minimum wage rates or higher. Care employers seeking to drive down pay risk losing staff and damaging morale in this crucial sector.