Norfolk County Council-owned care company trying to shortchange staff

A care company fully owned by Norfolk County Council wants to shortchange its staff by over £500, UNISON said today.

Arm-length firm Independence Matters is refusing to pass on the full nationally agreed local government pay rise for the first time since it was set up in 2013, says the union.

The company provides support to adults with learning disabilities and people living with dementia across Norfolk.

Around 180 staff who were transferred from the county council a decade ago had their pay and conditions protected, with their annual rises matching directly employed council workers.

But the firm has been refusing to pay last year’s settlement, a £1,925 flat-rate rise effective from April 2023 and agreed in November 2023, says UNISON.

Instead, staff are being offered a £1,400 rise, £525 less than their Norfolk County Council colleagues and other staff around England and Wales, according to the union. Support workers who started since 2014 are already paid nearly £2,000 a year less than their directly employed colleagues and are part of a much worse pension scheme.

UNISON is calling on the council to intervene and protect care workers’ pay ahead of a formal grievance meeting tomorrow.

If Independence Matters fails to change its mind, workers may be forced to vote on industrial action, warns the union.

UNISON Eastern regional organiser Cameron Matthews said: “These staff have given more than a decade of their life supporting people with learning disabilities and dementia across Norfolk.

“They’re incredibly dedicated to the people they support. That doesn’t mean Independence Matters or Norfolk County Council should take advantage of them.

“The council and company are already undervaluing support workers who started since 2014. It should concentrate on improving pay for all staff, not sticking even more care workers on second-rate wages.”