You couldn’t make it up

Napo calls for urgent review of safety of SSCL contract
15/08/2019
Be mindful not mind full
28/08/2019

You couldn’t make it up

I don’t believe it!

A recent report from a source in Unpaid Work in Dorset, Devon and Cornwall CRC shows that things are far from well, following the demise of Working Links and the change to KSS & SEETEC.  The catalogue of problems reads like a crime sheet!

  • Grass cutting equipment held to ransom by suppliers due to unpaid debts left by Working Links;
  • UPW vehicles driven by staff unaware that they were not taxed;
  • Fuel cards refused at fuel stations;
  • And demands for unpaid rent and rates on workshops.

UPW was promised new vehicles at the beginning of May, but staff are still waiting. The old vehicles desperately need replacing – so much so that a member of the public recently called the police to one of the UPW sites at a local school when they spotted the rusty old vehicle and assumed that it was someone lifting the lead from the roof.

Staff have also experienced conflicting information on RAC breakdown cover due to a lack of clarity concerning contacts. One weekend a supervisor broke down at 5.30pm and didn’t make it home until 1.30 in the morning after numerous phone calls from both them and the duty officer concerning cover.

How we still have the amazing hard working staff we have is incredible. They deserve a great deal of praise, thanks and acknowledgment. Our sources say “if it was not for front line staff who care and have gone the extra mile we would not be delivering any form of service.”

Our mistake – but YOU pay

Since the start of the NPS, the contract with SSCL has been a source of constant frustration for staff and line managers, bruised by being bumped between staff and rigid HR systems. However, recently Napo has been inundated with members concerns about both over and under payments, some of which you really couldn’t make-up.

For example, Napo are representing a new batch of members who were issued the wrong contracts on starting with NPS. Their contracts included the wrong starting pay. Some of them were sent over-payment letters; others didn’t receive any extra money; whilst some were told SSCL would make –up the underpayment. Welcome to the NPS!

We’re also representing a new batch of members distressed by over-payment demands. In most cases, these date back to previous SSCL errors which they’d been told had been corrected. Several are retired and have no salary to make the payments from. At least one is on long term sick and zero pay. Napo are advising members to complete an on-line questionnaire and to not agree t repay anything until they are certain that, this time, SSCL have proof the demand is accurate.

The classic case however, is probably a newly appointed manager who had to delay their start because the contract SSCL issued wasn’t correct. SSCL proceeded to pay them anyway – around 3 months’ pay. The member contacted SSCL and was told to repay the money gross – i.e. give SSCL more than they’d wrongly received to compensate SSCL for money they’d wrongly given HMRC for tax and NI… in other words asked to pay their tax twice!

Members are reminded that SSCL won the contract without any competition, potentially because they are 49% owned by the Government. Awarding yourself contracts is usually grounds for investigation by the Serious Fraud Office, but they’re a Government Agency who report to MoJ Ministers so they are probably safe for now – especially as one of the Ministerial team, Edward Argar’s previous job was head of Public Relations in Serco when they were committing fraud on MoJ tagging contracts.

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