Report from the front line: Lifeways Dorset tear the arse out of care contract.

Lifeways Dorset will today, Tues 28th January, be dismissing what is expected to be the majority of their support workers for refusing to sign an agreement that would mean up to a 60% cut in take home pay with immediate effect. Lifeways is a private health care provider who won contracts for to provide care to people with a severe learning disability and challenging behaviour.

The staff were transferred with the clients when all of Dorset’s Homes for those with a learning disability and challenging behaviour shut. Most staff have worked with the clients for many years and thus have a positive trusting relationship with those supported and fully understand the complex needs and challenging behavior. Not only are the staff to lose up to £2 per hour from hourly rate, all enhancements for unsociable hours, their pensions reduced, sick pay removed, annual leave reduced all expected to be agreed to with the understanding the budget from the Dorset CCG and Local Authorities had been cut. With a backdrop of an overall profit of £12.6 million last year nationally.

How can a support worker with a family to support possibly agree to such severe cuts and thus have no option but the dismissal and implementation of the lower rate after their notice period? Many have already left to find employment that will not force them into poverty, those that remain are living in limbo and worse of all those positive relationships those supported had are being replaced by being supported by a stranger. How is Private health allowed to get away with this?


  1. Hi,

    The same is happening here in Wales also. Would advise all Lifeways employees to read this ACAS publication:

    Click to access Varying-a-contract-of-employment-accessible-version.pdf


  2. Sounds like an NHS reprovision, this has happened in many places over the last 5 years. This is no surprise, the staff are lucky for this not to have happened already. The NHS TUPE staff in a private company here in Kent are about to have their terms and conditions changed.

    The changes aren’t too bad relative to other service providers. The main argument for unsocial hours being cut is that the nature of our work is 24/7, we know that when we start work and a service user shouldn’t have to pay more for their support just because it is a weekend or after 8pm. That it has happened that way until now is lucky and staff should be grateful, others haven’t had this enhancement at all.

    The NHS pension is one of the public sector ‘golden plated’ ones and again, staff should be grateful for having had that at all. They will not lose anything saved, just the rate at which employers pay into them is lower, as is the norm in the private sector. The taxpayer funds these pensions, and I don’t think it is fair that someone doing a job paying into a 1% workplace pension scheme should also be paying tax on their wage to fund an NHS staff member’s pension, with the NHS (or taxpayer) contributing around 7% whilst doing the same job.

    Sickness rates in the NHS 2012-13 averaged 9.5 days per worker, the private sector averaged 5.7 days. The 60% higher sick rate is because of the sickness pay and benefits NHS staff get. It was acknowledged that a hospital visit was more risky over a weekend not too long ago and you can see graphs showing the weekly peak of sickness rate occurring at weekends. Tie this in with sickness pay being paid at an enhanced rate ( that is, if someone was due to work at an enhanced rate, e.g. weekend, then their sick pay gets paid at an enhanced rate also.) Again, the taxpayer is paying for these sick days, they are entitled to fairness.

    Annual leave gets reduced to 20 days (or 28 days if working bank holidays which is more likely) which is in line with the rest of the private sector. An NHS worker can get up to 68% more (41 days) annual leave, again for doing the same job as a private support worker.

    The crux of it is that the staff are having to adjust to real world terms and conditions. Yes they are tougher, and a shock after being used to different terms and conditions. In reflection you can see how much money the NHS (and other public services) costs and that this is not in line with the rest of the working sector.


    • Thanks for that well explained but unfortunately inaccurate reply – firstly the tax payer as a whole says a lot more into private pensions than they do public due to the huge tax breaks given to private employers – I don’t want to enter into a row about public verses private as all workers should be on more – it seems you would be of the opinion that people should be paid according to their job – why would any person work with a challenging client for the same money you can get for stacking shelves? Baked beans don’t punch back therefore the removal of sickness benefit is completely unreasonable. And again to state the obvious your post seems more concerned with the tax payer than those receiving the care- so to argue along your lines all lifeways have done despite 12.5 million profit last year is knocked down the staff’s salary and the working tax credit system will bail out the staff by replacing what lifeways have taken, that to me should be your main concern the fact lifeways shareholders are making millions and your taxes are increasing the profit they keep and being used still in the form of tax credits – therefore I see no logic in your post?


      • They haven’t just trashed staffs terms conditions and pay, that is decades of union campaigning signed away too, perhaps our difference of opinion is because of the different nature of clients we have in Dorset due to how history for those with LD unravelled in this county, but i promise you with the best care in the world people will at some point seize an opportunity to offend. But seriously one staff member single parent of 3 meant to sign away to loose £600 per month and be left with £389, her mortgage is £450, cuts this savage are intolerable and the pensions were effected in this consult. I fail to understand how you can say sickness if higher in the NHS solely due to benefit, would you not say factors like short staff, overwork, manual handling injuries, infectious disease, warm environment, the millions of free hours nhs staff work etc all add to the sickness figures. Plus the fact to work in a health environment you need to be non infectious yourself, unlike the private sector staff retainment is better in the NHS and thus by the nature of life the sickness figures will include all long term injury and planned surgery etc.. which would not show in private sector stats as staff turnover is higher. That is where you and i differ I consider fighting for staff rights and loyality is worth the world to those we care for and is just as worthwhile way to spend my time as providing good care when in the service. Where would it end, when the next round of cuts get rolled out are we going to grin and bear it?


    • and anybody who thinks the average nhs pension is gold plated has been reading the daily mail/sun too much and not looked into the figures


      • Ouch, that daily mail/sun jibe was low! I don’t read the papers, Private Eye does me just fine 🙂 The NHS pension is better than the workplace pension, the figures came from the NHS pensions site… I rounded up 6.8%. Lifeways accounts filed last year show a £3.5m profit, not 12.5. Maybe its a different lifeways?

        I wasn’t trying to apologise for anyone, just don’t think the money is there. councils award to lowest bidders, my last company lost a tender to a provider offering £13p/h support to an authority.

        Challenging behaviour shouldn’t cause staff to go sick if it’s managed properly. I can imagine baked bean cans have caused supermarket staff to go sick though!

        I do care about the tax payer and wish large corporations would pay their share, but my work is supporting someone who receives care and I put that before the above issues. I lost NHS terms in 2009 along with everyone else but I anticipated it and dealt with the change… plus our sickness rate decreased, increasing consistency and quality of support… genuinely.

        Try and make the best of the change, there are others who wouldn’t mind being in this situation.

        No more tabloid jibes 😉


  3. We are not grateful for wage labour on any terms; the bourgeoisie stole our land and steal from us the products of our labour every day. They have all but destroyed our planet in pursuit of their greed.

    The producer, consumer and taxpayer are all one, we are not in the least interested in adjusting to your conception of the real world, being a fantastic confidence trick to justify the dominance of the many by the few.

    What is important is that we show total solidarity in the face of any attack on members of our class, it doesn’t matter to us what justifications are expressed as we would hardly expect the ruling class to let us in on their long term plans, but we have a pretty shrewd idea what they have in mind.

    In short, stop apologising for the enemy, they don’t need your bloody help!


    • If someone is left with £389 a month then something is wrong that works out at £2.60 p/hr?


      • she is part time being a single parent of 3


  4. The corporations are cash-rich and the government is full of self-serving millionaires, There’s no shortage of new fancy cars on the roads; why should we accept any fall in our living standards? We want everything shared out properly based on need.


  5. […] Report from the front line: Lifeways Dorset tear the arse out of care contract. […]


  6. […] or choose, minimum cover, itinerant, zero hour workers, who are transferred with decreasing wages,… leaders, and managers, food , cage and medication, resulting in, even more profit, for the pharma […]


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