TBG Flex Pension Scheme query submitted to the Pensions Regulator

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Barnet UNISON have submitted a query to the Pensions Regulator in regard to TBG Flex Pension Scheme :

 

Query: Is this employer’s pension scheme compliant with regulations?

 

Further to my conversation with James Marshall and as agreed I am writing to provide the relevant information for The Pensions Regulator to decide whether the Pension Scheme operated by the employer (TBG Flex Ltd.) meeting the intention of Parliament under Automatic Enrolment legislation.

 

The Company

TBG Flex Ltd (set up as an employment company in 2017 to avoid new staff being able to join the Local Government Pension Scheme) is a subsidiary of The Barnet Group which was set up in 2006 as separate entity to provide Housing and Care Services for the London Borough of Barnet.

 

Automatic Enrolment

Automatic enrolment commenced for staff employed by TBG Flex Ltd at the company’s inception in 2017. [Please see  TBG Flex Pensions April 2019.]

 

Staff Benefit

All TBG Flex staff receive employee benefit (called Flex Benefit) of 5% or 10% (depending on grade) of salary are paid to staff in addition to salary. The Flex Benefit can be used by staff to top up store cards, purchase dental care insurance, dining card etc. and allows the employer TBG Flex Ltd to pay employer’s contribution in respect of staff participation in Automatic Enrolment.[Please Introduction to Flex Benefit September 2018 and TBG Flex Employees Benefit 2019.]

 

Effect of Automatic Enrolment under Flex Benefit

For staff choosing to join the TBG Flex pension scheme have to sacrifice their Flex Benefit because the employer TBG Flex Ltd pays the employers contribution from the Flex Benefit “earned” by staff. This policy of meeting the employer’s pension contribution from Flex Benefit incentivises staff not to join the pension scheme in the first place and incentivises those staff in the pension scheme to leave.

 

Discrimination

The staff in the pension scheme under Automatic Enrolment enjoy lower Flex Benefit compared to their colleagues on the same salary grade who decide to opt out of Automatic Enrolment.

 

Concerns

I am concerned that this employer’s Auto Enrolment Pension Scheme is not meeting the intention of Parliament in that employer pays employer’s statutory contribution from the Flex Benefit accrued to these staff. Further it incentivises staff not to join the pension scheme in the first place and incentivises those staff in the pension scheme to leave. Finally, staff in the pension scheme are discriminated as these staff participating in Automatic Enrolment enjoy lower Flex Benefit compared to their colleagues on the same salary grade who decide to opt out of Automatic Enrolment.

 

The query has been acknowledge awaiting further investigation.

TBG Flex members with issues or complaints about the Flex Benefits reward system please write to contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

The Council’s New Housing Strategy – Increase rents by £100 a week


 An extra £100 a week on rents for new build council homes and re-let council homes being transferred to Open Door Homes (ODH) – the Council’s housing development company.

The plan will mean council tenants in new and re-let homes owned by ODH will have to pay £209 a week for a 2-bedroom home compared with £109 a week currently charged for a council home.

Exploiting the most vulnerable in our community – people in need of Housing may no longer be able to afford this – a disgrace – The Barnet Group is an experiment that needs to be brought back in house and do what they are supposed to do – PROVIDE COUNCIL HOUSING!!!!

In the Labour Group’s submission to the draft Housing Strategy consultation, Labour’s Lead on Housing – Cllr Paul Edwards said: “Barnet Homes (Open Door) is a social landlord and should be providing social rent homes at rates in line with the Mayor’s plan. So, the rent should be no more than 50% of market rates, which is a more socially just rent to ask for than 65% and is in line with the Mayor’s plan.

“The high 65% social rent is the main reason Barnet Council were not able to secure more grant from the GLA – why would the Mayor invest in building new social rent homes that are not going to be affordable to those on low incomes?”

Cllr Edwards also criticised the lack of ambition to deliver more affordable homes across all development, and called for the affordable homes target to be increased from 40% of all new homes to 50%. The Conservatives voted against this as well.

Ends.
Notes:
1. The Council’s new Housing Strategy can be found here (Agenda Item 8):

http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/g9740/Public%20reports%20pack%2001st-Apr-2019%2019.00%20Housing%20Committee.pdf?T=10

Barnet Homes ASSIST

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Barnet Group ASSIST proposals

 

Barnet UNISON is currently in negotiations with The Barnet Group in relation to the recommendations below.

Needless to say, Barnet UNISON is opposed to cuts to this vital front line service and opposed to the night operator service being outsourced.

The proposed recommendation to move to bench marked salaries would have grave implications for ALL Barnet Group staff irrespective of whether they are employed on a traditional Barnet Homes contract, which is protected by the 2006 TUPE agreement from LBB, or, a TBG Flex contract.

If Barnet Group Management continue with the intention to break with the current nationally agreed pay structure in the Barnet Homes and the TBG Flex paystructure, Barnet UNISON will be left with no alternative other than consult with ALL employees that would potentially be effected.

 

The Barnet Homes Board approved the following on Monday 18th June.

 

Recommendation

It is fully acknowledged that Assist is an essential and greatly valued service and the focus will be on how the service is supported to grow. However, the current cost base does not support the services ability to bid for new business and cannot continue to be provided in its existing form if the growth aspirations are to be achieved.

 

The proposed changes are not made to cut costs just to make the numbers balance, but are made to modernise the service. The result of the changes are lower costs as we plan to combine our call centre functions and tender the current night operators service. Jobs will be offered in the call centre where they are available but they will be different.

 

The measures that need to be taken if Assist is to continue to provide an operator and mobile response service to its current customers and to win additional services to support the growth imperative are stated below.

 

There have been 4 different options that have been consulted on with the Assist staff and following feedback the following is recommended.

 

  • The Assist service provides a limited operator service during office hours and buys in the out of hours call monitoring.
  • All Assist daytime operators, mobile response officers, management and admin teams will be matched to the bench marked high rate salaries, aligned to NJC Outer London Spinal points.
  • Enhancements and shift allowances will no longer be paid.
  • 3.3 full time equivalent operator posts (125 hours) will be co-located to work within the contact centre carrying out the same duties as they currently do, during office hours (8am-6pm), this option will add another facet to the Barnet Homes Call Centre further supporting the diversity of work that this service area carries.
  • The current night operators will be consulted with and will either be TUPE’d to the procured provider, be redeployed within The Barnet Group, or be made redundant.
  • Where the impact of the changes to individual’s salaries and contractual obligations are impacted negatively by -10% (gross) or higher they will be offered redeployment or redundancy if a suitable alternative cannot be found.
  • All mobile response officer (MRO) work patterns will be reviewed to ensure that there is full cover for the service and capacity for growth
  • There will be a reduction of one senior post
  • The standby rate will remain at £26.76, this will be cost neutral for the Barnet MRO’s and an increase for the Brent MRO’s
  • Removal of the car allowance with all mileage paid at 60p per mile.

 

FAT CAT PROFITS