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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Derek Muse's report includes updates on:
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.
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.
The recruitment process is continuing smoothly and so far still on target to be completed for April 2014.
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.
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.
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.
The new structure has now been finalised with many staff being assimilated or “lifted and dropped” into their existing roles.
The new Finance structure has now been recruited to and put into place.
YHN’s Family Intervention Project were recently featured in a one off documentary programme on BBC1.
YHN has ‘a positive long term future commissioned by NCC to act as its management agent.
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.
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 courses for members and stewards.
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
Papers for the meeting on Monday 3 April.
Meeting on Tuesday 28 March 2017 at 4.30pm.
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.
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
Agenda and annual report.
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
Saturday 25 March. Hear grassroots, union and guest speakers and watch the Reel News film showing the Durham Teaching Assistants’ story.
Saturday 25 March, to plan UNISON LGBT activities for the year ahead.
A joint training session for trade union and community activists on how to organise to defeat the politics of division. 18 March 2017.
March calendar of events and activities.
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
Papers for the meeting on Monday 6 March.
Papers for the retired members' meeting on 17 March.
Winners in February.
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.
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
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
Minimum wage cheats named and shamed
Inflation hits three-year high
Unemployment at 11-year low
Inflation erodes growth in weekly earnings
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
Sunderland, 19/20 May 2017.
Sign Language (BSL) Introduction, 2 March 2017
Dementia Workshop, 30 March 2017
Regional Education Calendar 2017
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?
Review of tribunal fees finally published
Plan to tackle abusive hiring practices
Insecure work on rise
Twenty eight directors share £68.37 million
A list of affiliations and donations that the branch committee has approved since January 2015.
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
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.
Winners in January.
Northern Region Young Members AGM
UNISON Northern Region Black Members Forum AGM 2017.
Discounted car insurance for UNISON members.
In Newcastle on Saturday 4 February.
Papers for the meeting on 6 February.
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
Agenda and nomination form for the mmeting on 4 February.
Annual Meeting of the Regional Disabled Members Self Organised Group on Tuesday 31 January 2017.
Mental Health Awareness Workshop on Thursday 16 February.
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
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
UNISON have now been allocated two spots on the 16 January to have guided tours around the Anne Frank exhibition.
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
Winners in December.
Consultation on political fund review: December-January
We are having our first Reading Ahead launch at Welford Learning Zone on 11 January between 10am and 11am.
Book now to secure your place on one of the courses for Reps at Newcastle College starting in January 2017.
UNISON courses in 2017. These courses are free and open to all members unless otherwise stated.
'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