Your Homes Newcastle

Convenor:  Derek Muse    Stewards and Reps   YHN Archive

Following the setting up of Newcastle’s Arms Length Management Organisation in 2004 staff TUPE transferred from Newcastle City Council to YHN –including, of course UNISON members. Unlike some ALMOs elsewhere in the country UNISON membership continues to thrive in YHN with well over 400 members, a good network of Shop Stewards who hold Shop Steward Committee Meetings on a monthly basis.

As staff’s terms and conditions transferred with them our colleagues in YHN take a keen interest in our pay claims, single status negotiations and the like. As well as rising to the top of the political agenda in recent months housing is a key area for UNISON and the community and voluntary sector with over a third of our national community and voluntary sector membership being employed in the housing profession.  

April 2016

Recruitment to Managing Director post has now been completed – Tina Drury who currently works for ISOS will be taking up the position on the 1st June.

Staff who are potentially in scope to transfer to Byker Community Trust have had details passed over to BCT so just awaiting JDs for consultation and further legal advice.

Newcastle Furniture Service – review has just been completed. Alterations to shift patterns and staff will no longer be working flexi-time.

February 2016

Recruitment advert for position of Managing Director is imminent.

Staff will be informed at the end of January whether or not their VR application has been successful.

New trading subsidiary has been created (following Abri and Asfaleia) called Ostara which will include YHN’s Community Care Alarm Service and Wardens. CCAS has been delivering telecare and response services in Newcastle since 1984. Most of these customers currently have their service charges paid for through Newcastle City Council’s Supporting People budget but this funding has reduced dramatically over recent years and will be reducing again in 2016/17.  This poses a serious threat to YHN income which means that they must now look to actively promote the service to the private market to ensure its long term viability.

Still no progress made to date on proposed TUPE transfer of staff to the Byker Community Trust.

January 2016

The position of the Chief Exec is now resolved and he has now left the organisation. The intention is now for YHN to have a Managing Director rather than a Chief Exec and the post should be advertised very soon. In a recent meeting with the Chair it was explained that the successful candidate would not necessarily need any housing experience but it was more important to recruit someone who matched YHN’s values and vison on how the organisation can grow.

In advance of the impending review a generic VR trawl is now taking place – YHN have agreed with NCC an extension to current redundancy scheme (X1.5) until December 2016


TUPE Transfer to  Byker Community Trust

The Byker Community Trust (BCT)  was set up in July 2012 as they became the owner of 1800 NCC properties which were transferred to them via a stock transfer. By residents voting to agree to the transfer historical debt was written off. This then enabled BCT to borrow money to invest in the listed properties and surrounding estate with tenants having a greater say in how the Trust was run.

Housing Management and associated services are still provided by YHN staff via a management agreement. BCT have now decided that they wish to become more independent and actually run and manage more of the services directly. While YHN staff currently providing these services will be protected by TUPE there are concerns among staff about any proposed transfer. Consultation is about to begin but staff have drawn YHN’s senior management’s attention to commitments made when the Trust was set up that should such a scenario arise staff will be able to be retained by YHN.


Report to Branch Committee

HR – Operational management staff TUPE transferred to NCC on 1st April 2015. Already seen a positive impact with a change of approach compared to previous years at YHN

WRSR – Despite new structure being well embedded there are still concerns in some areas that staffing numbers are incorrect and staff are under stress as a result of this. On-going dialogue with YHN management as there is a reluctance to admit that they have possibly not got everything right on implementation.

Sickness – Priority on YHN’s agenda at the moment – absence figures significantly higher than NCC/other similar organisations. DM raised concerns at YHN’s JCC at Chief Exec’s suggestion that sick pay entitlements could be reduced if absence figures don’t improve – this would basically mean YHN moving away from collective bargaining and Green Book terms and conditions.

Report went to Board on 28th July re proposed new structure. Proposed to introduce a Trading Arm subsidiary (Abri Trading Limited) – incorporating NFS and Palatine – which would be a profit making operation, and a subsidiary which would attain charitable status (Asfaleia) – incorporating Advice & Support, Sheltered & YPS. This set up would enable NFS/Palatine profits to be “gifted” to the charitable arm – which in itself would be free to attract further funding from elsewhere. Proposed implementation date is 1st October 2015.

Currently negotiating with NCC on a new 10 year agreement – draft almost completed and new agreement would be from 1st April 2016.

Govt. decision to expect Councils to reduce rents by 1% over the next 4 years could mean a loss to the HRA of around £33 million – which is what funds YHN.

New counselling service – Relate – will be able to be accessed by YHN employees as a further means of support (not just for relationship issues!!).

Equality stats circulated – YHN still has some way to go to have a truly representative workforce. Also noted that no one over a Y5 grade in YHN has either been disciplined or raised a grievance – figures will need researching but seems to confirm suspicions that YHN has had a different approach to its management staff to those on lower grades.


NCC / YHN Review

The branch secretary reported to the November Branch Committee as follows:-

A further meeting has taken place between the trade unions UNISON, GMB, UNITE and UCATT; and Pam Perry (NCC HR) and Sheila Breslin (YHN Asst Chief Exec). Specific detail was shared about the proposal to transfer the vast majority of YHN HR and OD to NCC. UNISON had already met with and was representing YHN members affected. In addition, David Hall (NCC Ast Dir BCE) and YHN explained the latest information about the review of Citybuild.

Branch Secretary’s Report – Branch Committee,  November 2014



YHN Review Update

A meeting recently took place between Pam Perry (Assistant Director HR), Sheila Breslin (Director of Corporate Services & Assistant Chief Exec – YHN), and Derek Muse (YHN Convenor and Deputy Branch Secretary), and Paul Gilroy (Branch Secretary).

The purpose of the meeting was to share the scope of the review proposals with UNISON, for YHN and NCC to update us on progress, and for the management to receive UNISON’s initial thoughts. As there have been no specific proposals put forward, UNISON concentrated on the principles established and how UNISON could play a role in shaping or reviewing the options.

It has been agreed that UNISON will be invited to speak to the theme leads to enable us to then brief our members across YHN. UNISON will ensure that full consultation will take place with members once formal proposals are released.


MAY 2014

YHN/CVS Report to Branch Committee, May 2014

Derek Muse's report includes updates on:


The Challenges Facing YHN Members in 2014

An assessment by YHN convenor, Derek Muse

The next 12 months would appear to be a time of change and uncertainty for our members at YHN.

The implementation of the Welfare Reform Service Review will see YHN trying to address the impact of the horrendous welfare reforms, such as the hated “bedroom tax” being forced on to the most vulnerable members of our communities.

With the previous year’s cuts biting hard into YHN’s Housing Revenue Account and the benefit reductions transferring Government debt on to our City’s tenants it looks like being a difficult year especially for those delivering out front line services.     

In addition is the on-going Options Appraisal in which the City is looking at the future of Your Homes Newcastle.

While it is to be welcomed after much political debate that there is a commitment for YHN to continue well after the current contract ends in 2016 there is still a great deal of uncertainty for sections of YHN staff.

The main focus in the coming twelve months will be on what the City consider to be “shared services”, Finance being the obvious one but we would also expect HR, OD and possibly some of the policy work carried out by YHN’s Business Development Directorate to be in scope as the City and YHN look at “efficiencies” that can be made through either joint working or full integration. 


Council considers “The future management of Council owned housing in Newcastle”.

This report sets out the broad principles and proposed governance for the review of the Council’s relationship with Your Homes Newcastle going forward from April 2016. It also proposes a series of joint reviews to be undertaken collaboratively with Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) which consider options for delivery of business support functions and wider services.

The Council Cabinet met on 18th December to consider the report and the UNISON Branch Committee on 6 January will note the report, listen to the views from YHN stewards and discuss the Branch position.


Welfare Reform Review

The recruitment process is continuing smoothly and so far still on target to be completed for April 2014.

Options Appraisal

In response to recent publicity over leaked reports NCC state no decision has yet been made about bringing back the management of the Housing Revenue account under Council control. However, this raises a number of questions which are causing great uncertainty for YHN staff.

UNISON is discussing with management a proposal to add personal care to duties and responsibilities to the role of staff in  the Community Care Alarm Service. A similar proposal in the Sheltered Warden Service has been dropped.



Welfare Reform Review Update

The recruitment process has now begun. Still some concern over the future of some housing management admin roles though we do expect progress to be made on this very early in the New Year. Those who have requested VR have been contacted now confirming or rejecting their requests.


Property Services Review

A major staffing/restructure review is now underway within Property Services which includes Assets and Regeneration, Technical Services and Property Maintenance. As with the WRSR above a general VR trawl has begun and recruitment principles will also be the same as the WRSR.



YHN - Welfare Reform Review Update

The new structure has now been finalised with many staff being assimilated or “lifted and dropped” into their existing roles.

Finance Review

The new Finance structure has now been recruited to and put into place.

YHN Make National TV!

YHN’s Family Intervention Project were recently featured in a one off documentary programme on BBC1.

Options Appraisal

YHN has ‘a positive long term future commissioned by NCC to act as its management agent.

Single Status

We now have 20 UNISON members still requiring protection, and while of little comfort to those still in protection this has reduced from an initial figure of over 150 members at implementation.

Read more in Derek Muse's report to the October Branch Committee.


YHN Restructuring

Following the Government’s changes to the benefits system – the introduction of the “bedroom tax” and benefit cap in April 2013 and then the national roll out of Universal Credit, which replaces many existing benefits beginning in October 2013 YHN have had to consider how it delivers its housing management services to the City’s Council housing tenants.

The introduction of the bedroom tax alone has seen rent arrears increase massively across the City hitting those who can least afford it the most. The introduction of Universal Credit is likely to make the situation even worse. YHN’s housing management function has been centred around a generic housing management approach though it is proposed that this is about to change.

Consultation is on-going with staff and UNISON with restructuring the service and creating specialist housing management roles based around housing options (lettings), income and estate management. For many staff used to delivering a generic role this is a fairly radical change and UNISON are at the forefront to ensure that jobs and salaries are maintained to at least current levels. YHN has also commenced the consultation process with members and the Newcastle Tenant and Residents Association.

As well as the above staff are also awaiting the outcome of discussions around the future of the ALMO as NCC deliberates over a number of options which include bringing YHN back “in house” to the City Council. Again no decision will be finalised without full consultation with members and tenants.


New on Site


Learning at Work Week

15-21 May 2017. The theme this year is Curious and Creative for Learning at Work Week.

Distance Courses

Starting 24 April 2017, these courses can be done online or paper based.


NEC Elections

Branch nominations and ballot details.

'There For You’ Newsletter

This newsletter includes an update on the changes to the Bereavement Support Payment as well as contact details for ‘Down to Earth’, who provide practical and emotional support throughout the funeral process.


Branch Lottery

Winners in March.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/13

Executive pay bandwagon rolls on

Cycle courier entitled to holiday pay

Employment law changes this April

New minimum wage rates kick in

UK lags on maternity

Merger heralds new teaching union

Consultation on caste discrimination



New courses for members and stewards.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/12

Inflation leaps to 3.2%

More regulation of gig economy needed

Appalling risk of suicides in construction

Fat cats — the great pay divide

Racist abuse after Brexit vote

Lack of diversity at top in Wales


Branch Committee

Papers for the meeting on Monday 3 April.


Regional Disabled Members Group

Meeting on Tuesday 28 March 2017 at 4.30pm.

Misogyny as a Hate Crime

Nottinghamshire Police have taken the bold step to identify misogyny as a hate crime and Northern UNSION are keen for this to be replicated in our region. The aim of the event is to identify how we can move the issue forward across the region with all three Police and Crime Commissioners.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/11

Swings and scooters of inflation basket

No real improvement in weekly earnings

Cosmetic improvement with Living Wage

Zero-hours contracts at record high

Unemployment falls below 1.6 million


AGM 2017

Agenda and annual report.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/10

Economic forecasts in Hammond's Budget

Mixed fortunes in ethnic women's pay gap data

Company merger and acquisitions in 2016

Numbers on zero-hours contracts at a high

GMB take on DX delivery firm

Former chancellor's nice big earner

Charter to stop violence at work


March/Rally for Durham Teaching Assistants

Saturday 25 March. Hear grassroots, union and guest speakers and watch the Reel News film showing the Durham Teaching Assistants’ story.

LGBT Policy weekend

Saturday 25 March, to plan UNISON LGBT activities for the year ahead.

HOPE Not Hate Event

A joint training session for trade union and community activists on how to organise to defeat the politics of division.  18 March 2017.

NE People’s Assembly

March calendar of events and activities.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/9

Trade Union Act regs come into force

Gender pension gap leaves women short

Violence at work — the nasty truth

Bookseller's £7m salary

Money purchase pension are norm

British Gas denied appeal in Lock case

Government fails in ethnicity review


Branch Committee

Papers for the meeting on Monday 6 March.

Retired members

Papers for the retired members' meeting on 17 March.


Branch Lottery

Winners in February.

Workers Memorial Day

Morning seminar and afternoon remembrance service in Hartlepool on Friday 28 April 2017. There is also an Eve of WMD ‘Gig’ on Thursday 27 April.


Labour Research Department Fact 79/8

Government green paper on pensions

A 'Stern diet' for fat cat directors' pay

Employers — don't miss out on talent

Argos repays £2.4 million to 37,000 staff

Economic growth revised upwards

Work fears of disabled people revealed

In the papers

Migrants have helped make Britain. It’s time to celebrate us

NHS at breaking point, according to British Medical Association

Councils prepare to cut essential services to fund adult social care

London transport spending equivalent to £1,500 more per head than North East


Labour Research Department Fact 79/7

Minimum wage cheats named and shamed

Inflation hits three-year high

Unemployment at 11-year low

Inflation erodes growth in weekly earnings

In the papers

Migrants are always the scapegoats. But now they’re taking on Ukip’s lies

I, Daniel Blake is a realistic depiction of life on benefits. Isn’t it?

English social care system for elderly facing 'complete collapse'

North East peers want law to make Government investigate impact of Brexit on region

North East recruitment drive revealed as jobless total in region rises

UK employment growth driven by foreign nationals, figures show

The NHS needs a rethink. Its priorities no longer make sense

Top Labour politicians come to 'UKIP area' Sunderland for Brexit debates and festival

Rothbury Community Hospital inpatient ward closure public meeting this week

Shopping will cost you more as prices rise, but is Brexit to blame?

Campaigners calling for u-turn over Post Office move

UK labour shortages reported as EU worker numbers fall

Britons living in the EU face Brexit backlash, leaked paper warns

Then the Daily Mail came for Gary Lineker, and we said: ‘Enough!’

Brexit survey revealed: What you would do if given second shot at EU referendum

Booming gig economy costs £4bn in lost tax and benefit payouts, says TUC

There will be a shameful betrayal of the Brexit low-paid

Welcome to the new dark ages, where only the wealthy can retire

NHS 'pays £7.5m a year for 20 most expensive agency doctors'

Drive to bring health and social care together is a well-intentioned mess


Disabled Members Policy Weekend

Sunderland, 19/20 May 2017.

Members training

Sign Language (BSL) Introduction, 2 March 2017

Dementia Workshop, 30 March 2017

Reps training

Regional Education Calendar 2017

In the papers

A&E in England had worst delays ever in January, leak suggests

Why was Newcastle Council leader Nick Forbes the star of Prime Minister's questions?

Number of patients stuck in hospital 'far higher than NHS data shows'

It's time corporate tax dodgers started losing lucrative council contracts

More council housing needed in the North East - government report reveals

Council tax, youth funding and bins: 6 things to look out for from Sunderland budget meeting

TyneMet and South Tyneside colleges merger: What it means for jobs, campuses and its new name?

Labour Research Department Fact 79/6

Review of tribunal fees finally published

Plan to tackle abusive hiring practices

Insecure work on rise

Twenty eight directors share £68.37 million


Affiliations and donations

A list of affiliations and donations that the branch committee has approved since January 2015.


In the papers

UK faces return to inequality of Thatcher years, says report

NHS ID scheme could deter eligible patients, say MPs

Councils may cut social care provision due to underfunding, LGA says

Nursery schools: ‘What society gives children less chance than their parents?’

Council tax rise planned for Northumberland residents as authority faces £36m cuts

'Trump can't hack Trebs' - the best signs from Newcastle anti-Trump demonstration

Labour Research Department Fact 79/5

Racism at work

Economy grows but there's a shortfall

Advice on gender pay gap from Acas

Tories offer no solution on discrimination

Eight assaults a day in Welsh schools


A quarterly periodical updating branch reps on employment law.


Branch Lottery

Winners in January.


Young Members

Northern Region Young Members AGM

Black Members

UNISON Northern Region Black Members Forum AGM 2017.

LV Car Insurance

Discounted car insurance for UNISON members.


North East March and Rally for #ourNHS

In Newcastle on Saturday 4 February.

Branch Committee

Papers for the meeting on 6 February.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/4

Death by a thousand fire service cuts

Guidance on stress

Modern-day slave traders jailed

Fees let bad bosses get off scot free

Top-ranked inclusive employers 2017

Get tough on pay, says pension funds


Women's Network AGM

Agenda and nomination form for the mmeting on 4 February.

Disabled Members

Annual Meeting of the Regional Disabled Members Self Organised Group on Tuesday 31 January 2017.

Members training

Mental Health Awareness Workshop on Thursday 16 February.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/3

Wales to ditch parts of 2016 Trade Union Act

Inflation rates at highest since 2014

Retail inflation eating into earnings growth

UK unemployment at nine-year low

In the Papers

Public sector pay poised to fall by thousands in real terms, TUC says

May’s promise on workers’ rights is hollow if she doesn’t get a deal

NHS crisis: the one act of self-sacrifice that could rescue our health service

Politicians have ignored the working class for too long

World's eight richest people have same wealth as poorest 50%

Crisis, what NHS crisis? Theresa May must stop this denial

Welsh government tables bill to overturn Trade Union Act


Anne Frank Trust Exhibition

UNISON have now been allocated two spots on the 16 January to have guided tours around the Anne Frank exhibition. 

Labour Research Department Fact 79/2

Courier's tribunal win against CitySprint

TUC warns over Brexit threat to workers' rights

Lame excuses for not paying minimum wage

High street store fined over safety

Manufacturing output edges higher

Child poverty briefing


Branch Lottery

Winners in December.


The Trade Union Act and UNISON's Political Fund

Consultation on political fund review: December-January

Reading Ahead

We are having our first Reading Ahead launch at Welford Learning Zone on 11 January between 10am and 11am.

Trade Union Reps courses

Book now to secure your place on one of the courses for Reps at Newcastle College starting in January 2017.

Northern Region Training Programme

UNISON courses in 2017. These courses are free and open to all members unless otherwise stated.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/1

'Precarious pay penalty' of zero-hours staff

Plans for a Universal Basic Income

2017 — economic forecasts for year

'Fat Cat Wednesday' has been and gone

Northern Ireland to reveal political gifts

UK's deficit in trade in goods gets ever worse

UK economic growth revised upwards