Essex County Council sold it’s ten remaining care homes in 2005 to Excelcare Holdings Plc. Staff were assured that TUPE would protect terms and conditions and would last “indefinitely”. Less than two months later, Excelcare demanded changes in rotas and working hours, followed by radical changes to terms and conditions which included a reduction in pay rates and earnings – many staff would lose between 30% – 40% of their income, a reduction in holidays and loss of sickness benefit (only Statutory Sick Pay) and the loss of night shift rates because Excelcare imposed a 24 hour rate.
A few staff accepted the offer but most did not. In November 2006 it imposed new terms and conditions in five homes by terminating the contracts of all staff who had not accepted the offer. Those who continued working were paid at Excelcare rates and not the Essex County Council pay rates transferred under TUPE. There are now 40 tribunal unfair dismissal cases pending.
Excelcare operate the homes using ten separate companies. Excelcare Holdings PLC is registered in England and Wales, which in turn is owned by the ultimate parent company, Excelcare Group Ltd, registered in Jersey, Channel Islands, a tax haven.
The report examines the procurement process and homes transfer, economics of the Essex contract and the Excelcare company strategy, the impact on residential care and staff, draws lessons for procurement, care standards, inspection and scrutiny. The recommendations are targeted at Excelcare, Essex County Council and the Commission for Social care Inspection. Commissioned by Essex County UNISON.