Homeless charity staff’s slashed pay raises questions from Islington town hall

Cllr Murray address a rally of striking St Mungo's staff at Islington Town Hall

Cllr Murray address a rally of striking St Mungo's staff at Islington Town Hall - Credit: Archant

Slashed wages at a charity looking after some of Islington’s most vulnerable people has got town hall chiefs asking how much their top brass get paid.

St Mungo’s Broadway, which helps run several homeless centres across the borough announced they were cutting new starters’ pay – potentially by up to £5,000 a year in some cases.

Staff from the charity went on strike last week and staged a rally outside Islington Town Hall, in Upper Street - Cllr Richard Watts, leader of Islington Council and Cllr James Murray, Islington Council’s executive member for Housing and Development addressed the crowd of more than 60.

Now Cllr Murray and Cllr Janet Burgess, Islington Council’s executive member for health and well being, have written to Howard Sinclair, chief executive of St Mungo’s.

They said the charity was “vitally important” to the borough the they were “therefore very concerned by recent decision you have taken that affect your workforce, and which have resulted in and overwhelming vote in favour of seven days of strike action”.

They added: “We are aware that public services are under huge pressure across the board as a result of the national government’s deep cuts.

“However, in this context, Islington has tried to protect frontline staff pay while reducing senior pay – cutting the chief executive’s salary by £50,000, for instance.

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“We would be grateful to know what actions you are taking to reduce senior management pay.”

The letter goes on to “urge a re-think” and ensure “a fair future for your staff.”

Mr Sinclair replied: “We are not making redundancies or cutting the pay or reducing terms and conditions of our existing staff.

“We remain committed to paying all our staff at least a living wage.

“For new starters, our board agreed to this being set to the median in the sector. This was in response to a review of our financial position and the need to make difficult decisions in response to the current economic environment in which we provide services.

“I am sure I don’t need to tell you how stretched public funding currently is.

“Our focus is ensuring our services in Islington, and elsewhere, operate quality services to support our homeless and vulnerable clients.

- The town hall has overspent on temporary housing by a whopping £2million, it has been revealed.

A report delivered to a meeting of Islington Council’s ruling executive on last Thursday showed the sum had pushed the whole budget into the red to the tune of £1.2million.

The document said: “The Housing General Fund continues to be impacted by increased demand for temporary accommodation and the increased cost of supplying it, both of which have been made worse by ongoing changes to the housing benefit regulations.”