Leonard Cheshire Disability doesn’t care about carers’ subsistence wages

I raised in blogs passim that Clare Pelham, Chief Executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability (salary: £150k+) had this to say in the Huff 9 months ago:

At the very least we should celebrate care as a wonderful career choice with great training; and nothing less than a living-wage should be acceptable.

rates-currentThe Eye picked up that pay rates in LCD’s job adverts are less than the Living Wage ( £9.15 in London, £7.85 in the rest of the UK). In fact, they’re still not paying it. Here’s a current advert for a carer at Leonard Cheshire Disability in rural Carmarthenshire (posted 1st April 2015 and valid until the end of June) – salary: £6.53 an hour.

In response to my previous complaint that they don’t pay the living wage, Leonard Cheshire Disability said that they would like to but they aren’t paid enough by councils for residents’ care, so they can’t pay their carers the living wage. I was suspicious, so in January, I sent freedom of information requests to every council with social services responsibilities in England, Wales and Scotland, and every health and social care trust in Northern Ireland, to ask them whether Leonard Cheshire had asked councils to pay more so they can pay their carers the living wage, and how much Leonard Cheshire charges the council for residential care for people with physical impairments under the age of 65 compared to how much other providers charge. Here are a few sample responses.

There are 172 councils with social care responsibility and Northern Irish health and social care trusts in the UK. 168 have responded (four are with the Information Commissioner.) Of those, 123 councils hold contracts with Leonard Cheshire. 2 have lost their correspondence with Leonard Cheshire; that leaves 121 who hold correspondence from Leonard Cheshire about their fees levels. (The full data are available in this spreadsheet.)

Of those 121, how many councils do you think Leonard Cheshire asked to increase their payments so that Leonard Cheshire could pay the living wage?


Not one single one. As of January, LCD had not asked any council to increase their fees so they could pay the living wage. 0%.

Leonard Cheshire had written to the councils asking for increases, but cited inflationary increase only – here’s an example letter.

So let’s see; maybe Leonard Cheshire charge less than their competitors, and that’s why they have to pay less. This is less clear-cut: councils generally agree the fees paid to residential care service providers based on the needs of each client. 72 councils provided usable comparative details of fees paid to both LCD and other providers for residential care for adults under 65 whose primary need is physical impairment (other councils had few clients and thus either couldn’t give scientifically significant data or couldn’t give information without risking identifying residents and so on.)  Of these 72 councils, 8 councils paid LCD less per client than other providers; 7 paid roughly the same to LCD and to other providers; and 56 councils paid more to Leonard Cheshire Disability than other providers.

78% of councils pay LCD more than other providers.

Okay; so LCD say that “nothing less than a living wage should be acceptable” for care workers; but they haven’t and still don’t pay it. They say it’s because they don’t get enough money from councils, but in 78% of councils they get paid more than other care providers, and they haven’t asked ANY council for more money so that they could pay their carers the living wage.

My Dad confronted Leonard Cheshire about this.

Vicky Hemming, People Director at Leonard Cheshire, said this in this letter of 22nd May:

“We remain in regular dialogue with commissioners, and have in fact recently written to all local authorities who commission our services about our desire to pay the living wage.

Oh, really? I thought I would check. I put in further Freedom of Information Requests to 21 councils who had been particularly helpful the first time round.

Anglesey: (nearest LCD service: Carmarthen, whose job advert I quote above)

I have summarised your request as: “any representation Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD) has made to your council to increase fees paid by yourselves to LCD in order to enable LCD to pay its carers the Living Wage”.

I have discussed your request with the relevant Senior Manager who provided me with copies of communications between LCD and the Isle of Anglesey County Council and the North Wales Commissioning Hub (NWCH) response. As a result I can confirm that the correspondence related to fees, but had no mention of Living wage.

East Yorkshire’s response:

We have been in correspondence with LCD about fees levels but this has not being regarding the living wage.


Monmouthshire County Council has received further correspondence from Leonard Cheshire Disability about fees but no mention has been made of the Living Wage.

How can Leonard Cheshire claim to have “written to all local authorities who commission our services about our desire to pay the living wage” and yet three councils (so far, many are yet to respond) have had NO correspondence whatsoever about the living wage from LCD? Is there a fit of collective amnesia, or some careful manipulation of the truth?

The truth is straightforward and totally borne out by all the above research.

  1. Leonard Cheshire Disability claim that “nothing less than the living wage is acceptable” for carers.
  2. Leonard Cheshire Disability comprehensively pay less than the living wage to its carers.
  3. Leonard Cheshire Disability have lied about the reasons they don’t pay their carers the living wage.
  4. Leonard Cheshire Disability have lied about their supposed actions taken to enable them to pay their carers the living wage.

The implications:

  • Leonard Cheshire Disability’s claim to value their carers is obviously complete rubbish, as they don’t pay their carers a living wage.
  • Whilst they want the good PR of appearing to support the Living Wage, the reality is that they don’t and that they use illegitimate excuses for not doing so.
  • Leonard Cheshire Disability have lied about the actions they have taken to enable them to pay the Living Wage. In reality, they have done VERY little.
  • This is a sad indictment of Leonard Cheshire Disability’s treatment of its staff, and – by proxy – its service users.
  • Leonard Cheshire Disability can’t be trusted in their public pronouncements.

When are they going to actually start paying the living wage?


Since publishing this post, so far the following councils have responded about whether they have had LCD’s supposed recent missive on the Living Wage.


I can confirm that Torfaen Social Care Service has not received the correspondence you refer to below.


Brighton & Hove Commissioning & Contracts Team have not received correspondence from Leonard Cheshire Foundation regarding the Living Wage.

West Lothian:

 I can confirm that West Lothian Council has received no further correspondence from Leonard Cheshire Disability in relation to increase in fees for services.

Kensington and Chelsea:

We received correspondence from Leonard Cheshire but there was no reference to the Living Wage.


We have not received any request from Leonard Cheshire Disability about their desire to pay the living wage to their carers.


I can confirm that we have received letters from LCD requesting an increase in fees to reflect inflation, but have no record of any correspondence referring to the living wage.

Milton Keynes:

we are not aware that the Joint Commissioning Team has received any correspondence from The Leonard Cheshire Disability regarding the living wage.

Barnet: (Hallelujia! Blimey! We’ve struck gold! A council that has actually had correspondence from LCD on the living wage! This is better than nothing, but hardly hard talking to the Council to make it happen, in my view.)

We fully support the recommendation of both commissions that social care should become a living wage sector.
While we recognise that this relies on a sustainable funding settlement from central government, I would welcome an opportunity to discuss this further with you, including ways in which we can work together to address this important issue for the sector.

Devon: (back to reality)

Devon County Council are not aware of having received any correspondence from Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD) in relation to the living wage.


I have been informed that the Authority received a letter from LCD dated 19 December 2014 (copy attached). (aside: letter does not mention the Living Wage.) Since then the Authority has only received an email from LCD asking for a decision on the matter

Leeds: (Will wonders never cease? Another council that has had the same letter as Barnet.)

Leeds City Council Adult Social Care can confirm that we have received correspondence from Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD) which refers to a living wage for the care sector

Southern Health and Social Care Trust (Northern Ireland):

The Trust has not received the correspondence you have referred to.

Birmingham: At the point that Leonard Cheshire claimed it had recently written to all commissioning authorities about the Living Wage (22nd May), Birmingham Council had not received any such letter. They have since received a letter about the living wage (dated 16th June) referring to the previous letter. LCD’s 2nd letter says: “In recent months we have sought to highlight this issue” – I wonder what prompted them to do that?! They further request a meeting to “discuss ways in which we can work together to address this.”
If my exposure of LCD’s duplicity has contributed in any way to forcing them to start to address the Living Wage, then I am pleased, even if they’re just going through the motions. Carers deserve better pay.

The Authority did not receive the letter which preceded this

Cumbria: Had not received any letter from LCD at the time LCD claimed it had written to all commissioning authorities.

Leonard Cheshire Disability wrote to the Interim Director for Health and Care Services at Cumbria County Council on 16th June 2015. The letter goes on to state that…LCD wrote to CCC on 25th March…

Buckinghamshire: DID receive the communication from Leonard Cheshire.


7 Replies to “Leonard Cheshire Disability doesn’t care about carers’ subsistence wages”

  1. To add to that, I can see that you’ve found that 78% of LAs pay LCD more than the average they pay to providers. Since we know that LCD is definitely NOT passing on these extra amounts to its frontline staff, and seeing as it’s supposedly operating on a ‘not-for-profit’ basis, I can only assume that these extra amounts are disappearing into the LCD empire building project, inflated pay for LCD bosses or similar. At one time I was given a document produced by LCD and distributed to all staff about its ‘5 year vision’. I’m going to see if I still have it lying around as that might be helpful in shedding some light on the LCD mindset.

    • Genny

      I’m very sorry (though not surprised) that LCD treated you so badly.

      It amazes me how many layers of management LCD have, and how many seemingly non-jobs with high party in London. So many that they had to move out of Millbank to larger premises at Vauxhall to accommodate them. These are all highly paid – yet they don’t seem to make any difference to my life. The carers, on just above the minimum wage, do make a difference to my life…

      Leonard Cheshire the man said that if and when management went from local management with responsibility for each service to a centralized system similar to the NHS, this is when the organisation would start to fall.

  2. Hi Doug

    Long time no see.

    In 2010, in the middle of three years of employment troubles ending up at the employment tribunal (see link), I got a job as a support worker with Leonard Cheshire Disability. I wasn’t going to go back to the tribunal (it nearly destroyed me last time) but I had an ongoing and never properly resolved set of grievances with LCD including some that were to do with paying staff for work done.

    I did eventually win one element of a grievance after arguing with them for months and months, but of course there was no win as the effort exerted was way out of proportion with the original issue and I was in no way convinced that the next employee to come along with the same issue would be treated any better. Read the next bit bearing in mind that ‘Disability’ is in Leonard Cheshire Disability’s title…

    I was told to go on a course and I requested reasonable adjustments so that I would be able to attend and complete the course. I had offered to check out the venue myself beforehand but wasn’t told until the last minute where it would be held so was unable to do that. When I arrived, no adjustments had been made so I was unable to stay. I returned home, called my line manager and offered to come to work for the hours I should have been on the course but this was declined. I was then told that I would not be paid for the time I’d set aside to do the course in spite of the fact that the only reason I could not attend was because the reasonable adjustments I had requested had not been made. I submitted a grievance and it was found against me. I seem to recall that this was about the course not being provided by LCD so they were disclaiming responsibility for what happened. I appealed and eventually, after a lot more argument, that decision was overturned.

    I also fought for a long time to ensure staff were properly paid for disturbed hours during ‘sleep-ins’. I had some success in this although I was never able to get a proper policy put in place.

    As I’m sure you’re well aware, the staff terms and conditions offered by service providers (which are generally corporate or corporate charity/not-for-profit) are on a slippery slope in one big race to the bottom as they compete to win contracts (at lowest price) while continuing to return profits for their shareholders or growth for their charitable empires.

    Eventually, LCD lost the contract for the ‘supported living project’ where I worked. The organisation that took over – Compass Community Care Ltd – ‘doesn’t like’ using bank staff. They definitely didn’t like using me! I understand that one strategy they use to avoid bringing in relief staff is that when a staff member goes off sick, they say that the small staff team can either cover the shifts between themselves – which may lead to very long shifts being worked – or they will recall the rotas and completely rewrite them (sometimes with only a day or two’s notice). As the staff have lives outside their work and other commitments, they understandably try to find cover amongst themselves rather than risk having to rearrange their whole lives around changed shifts at short notice.

    So there ya go. That’s my little bit of anecdotal evidence to add to the great work you’re doing there.

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