Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Follow the money at Care UK

As many people will be aware, a group of care workers in Doncaster are involved in a pretty serious fight with Care UK. These are frontline staff who were transferred across to the private sector and are seeking a meaningful pay rise, with a minimum starting rate of the national living wage of £7.65 an hour. The company has refused to consider a pay rise, so the workers have recently decided to continue to striking in support of that demand.

As always, follow the money, as Unison have done. Care UK is actually owned by a private equity firm called Bridgepoint Capital (whose advisers include Alan Milburn). Bridgepoint has some info on its website about ESG issues, but so far it seems that the strikers have been rebuffed in their approach to the company when they've tried to speak to Bridgepoint directly.

Of course, Bridgepoint won't have bought Care UK with its own money, behind them will be limited partners such as pension funds and other institutional investors. It would be interesting to see if they are aware of what is going on at Care UK, and the stance being taken.

This also reminds me of some interesting comments from Jon Moulton a few years ago. It does look like private equity firms struggle to behave as responsible owners in the care sector. Perhaps Bridgepoint will prove us wrong by doing the decent thing and ensuring that frontline staff get the pay they deserve?

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