Support staff in pay cut row

Unveiling of the Women of Faith group's latest embroidery project, Hidden Lancaster.
Unveiling of the Women of Faith group's latest embroidery project, Hidden Lancaster.

Disability support workers in Lancaster and Morecambe face a pay cut of around 30 per cent as part of county council budget cuts.

Funding to Creative Support, a non-profit, charitable organisation commissioned by the council to provide support for people with learning disabilities, is being slashed.

The services were provided by the NHS until they were taken over by Manchester-based Creative Support in 2007, when all 47 staff employed at the time of the takeover had their pay terms and conditions protected by a TUPE agreement.

An announcement that this will change from August 1 has angered those staff, who say it will be in breach of the TUPE agreement and staff contracts.

As well as the pay cut, full-time staff will also lose some annual leave, sick pay and unsocial hours enhancements.

One personal support worker, who did not wish to be named, said: “It is extremely worrying for all the loyal, long standing, experienced staff involved who may be forced to leave due to financial pressures and be replaced by inexperienced, underpaid staff.

Another said: “We feel that our pay is a reflection of the job we do, which includes personal care, banking, administering controlled drugs, cooking, supporting individuals with challenging behaviour and working 24 hour sleep-in shifts as well as being solely responsible for individuals with learning disibilities.”

County Coun Tony Martin, cabinet member for adult and community services, said: “Creative Support pays higher wages to former NHS staff in two parts of the county, making these services much more expensive than the market rate, including the rate we pay Creative Support elsewhere in the county.

“In our current financial position, we simply can’t afford to support these higher rates.”

Creative Support service director Julie Cooke said: “We have entered into a period of consultation with our staff with regard to changing their current terms and conditions of employment, in order that we can continue to provide the services at the funding rate set by the council.

“Obviously, this is a very difficult process and we are working closely with the individual staff, UNISON and ACAS to try and resolve the negotiations as amicably as possible.”