UNISON response to Caretaking Service Review


UNISON Response to Accommodation Office Options Review (FBC)

UNISON response to

Caretaking Service Review

23rd of July 2016


Purpose of Review

  • To make an annual saving £151,166.
  • This sum chiefly to be realised by withdrawing current Service Tenancies [£145,000] and Council tax payment [£25,320] from staff employed as Resident Caretakers.
  • To provide a more responsive Caretaking Service to Barnet Homes customers.




To achieve the above aims Barnet Groups stated preference is to:

  • Create a new Senior Estate Services Manager Post
  • Down grade current Estate Services Managers post and replace with new ESM role with different duties
  • Delete Senior Caretaker post
  • Create a new ‘Driver Grade’ caretaking post
  • Delete Resident Caretaker post and replace with a mobile Caretaker post.


Proposals by the Barnet Group


Estate Service Managers

To be ring-fenced to apply for new Senior ESM role – Choice of Redundancy or Assimilation into new ESM role – Pay protection would apply.


Senior Caretakers

To be ring-fenced to apply for any vacant new ESM role – Choice of Redundancy or assimilation into new mobile Caretaker/Driver role – Pay protection would apply.

Removal of service tenancy if applicable.


Resident Caretakers

Assimilation into new Caretaker/Driver role. Removal of service tenancy.



Removal of Service Tenancies – Barnet Group position


  1. Discretion at the initial Housing needs assessment.
  2. Discretion at the time of the first tenancy review (in 5 or 6 years’ time) provided you are still in the employment of Barnet Homes [as a caretaker]. Up to 11 years in current home with discretion.
  3. Senior Resident Caretakers will also benefit from the same discretion on the initial housing needs assessment even if they choose to take voluntary redundancy. But, the second round of discretion (i.e. in 5 or 6 years’ time) will not apply as they will not be employees of Barnet Homes.
  4. Lump sum compensation as an alternative to subsidised rent and council tax for two years (equivalent to one year’s rent and council tax). Average compensation payment per caretaker is estimated to be £7,290.


  1. There are no conditions (i.e. Continuation of service with the Barnet Group) to the award of the lump sum compensation. The amount offered equates to 1 years rent and we are not in a position to offer more. The tax free element of the payment depends on affordability.


  1. This Lump sum payment will not apply to Senior Caretakers who take Redundancy



Removal of Service Tenancies – UNISON Response


  1. UNISON members request that if discretion can be applied to the housing allocations policy that a secure, full life time Tenancy for staff effected should be considered as way to reach a mutually agreed position.


  1. It is welcomed that discretion has been extended to the date of the first tenancy review, however the qualification element of continuing to work as a Caretaker for Barnet Homes would limit opportunity of staff to progress their career with their current employer.


  1. It is welcomed that Senior Resident Caretakers will benefit from the same discretion if they choose to take redundancy – but this should also be applied to the first tenancy renewal [after the first 5/6 year period] whether or not there is a continuation of service with the Barnet Group.


  1. The lump sum option is welcomed, but the stated amount is not of enough value to compensate for the loss of staff’s service tenancy.


  1. It is welcomed that the lump sum is not reliant on staff continued service with the Barnet Group. However the offer will not reflect the outlay of effected staff over a year for rent and council tax if the payment is not the net figure.


  1. Senior Caretakers who take redundancy should be entitled to receive the lump sum compensation in lieu of a year’s rent as the lump sum is not reliant on continued service with the Barnet Group.


Other Factors


  1. Health & Safety Compliance – UNISON has asked for details of provision for staff under the H&S Workplace [Health and Safety and Welfare] Regulations 1992 for the new service – this has not been provided or costed.


  1. Removal of Contractual Overtime – Barnet Homes state – If salary protection applies then the contractual overtime will be protected. Salary protection will only apply if the employee’s current salary is higher than the new salary – It has not been communicated to staff whether or not salary protection will apply in their individual circumstance or what the cost will be to Barnet Homes.


  1. Barnet Group intention to create a new ‘Caretaker Driver Grade’ [SCP 20 – 23] with no supervisory responsibility.


Currently the Senior Caretaker Grade [SCP 22 – 25] encompasses some day to day supervision of caretakers, dealing with stores, Health and Safety checks on equipment, occasionally deputising for ESM’s and undertaking estate inspections. The Senior Caretaker position gives caretaking staff the opportunity for career progression. The new ‘Driver Grade’ does not have the same level of responsibility or offer caretakers the opportunity to progress their career.


  1. Staff and Customer Workshop Feedback indicates that while there is always room for improvement, there is a general feeling that the Service performs well and that a Local caretaker service, local knowledge and presence is important to Barnet Homes customers.


  1. Average age and length of service of staff group effected. The majority of staff who are Resident Caretakers will reach retirement age in the medium to short term.



  • A broken job structure which does not give adequate opportunity for career progression and which could have an adverse impact on staff retention.
  • Loss of loyal, committed and dedicated staff, who have good local knowledge and presence and rapport with Barnet Homes customers.
  • Spiralling cost of Service review in relation to redundancies, payments, pay protection, Health & Safety statutory requirements.
  • Failure to agree a negotiated way forward with staff, with the potential to cause a breakdown in industrial relations.


         UNISON Recommendations


  • That the Service Review should not incorporate removal of Service Tenancies from staff currently effected.


  • That the Senior Caretaker post is retained as part of the new structure.


  • That the Barnet Homes Board postpones making a decision until a fully negotiated agreement is reached with staff.