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Should an increase in costs for a service (handyman) be a decision for the council before payment?

+1 vote
Some background:

The council employs a handyman on a self employed basis, the council had been paying £75 a month for this handyman and if extra work was needed to be done this would be on top of the £75. When the bins in the local park were overflowing in the summer of 2017 I was asked by a member of the public what the handyman was actually being paid to do as he was not emptying the bins.

I could not answer this question as I did not know the answer and neither did it seem did the clerk or other councillors. I trawled through old minutes of the council as the clerk informed me he could find nothing giving details of what the handyman was paid to do - I eventually found that we were paying him to clear litter from the local park and this was all year even during the winter months when levels of users in the park were low (and very little litter)

I do not think this is suitable and asked that the council come up with a list of jobs in the community that we could reasonably expect a handyman to carry out - my aim was to ensure that if there was no litter then the handyman could get on with some other task.

A committee looking into this discovered that the handyman did not have insurance, this was dispite the clerk telling the council that the handyman had all the relevant cover (it was only when a councillor asked to see a copy that could not be produced that it was admitted that the handyman had no insurance)

Long story short handyman paid for insurance and has raised the monthly charge to £95 a month - I only discovered this when I questioned what other work the handyman had done as the accounts were showing £20 increase in his monthly bill.

As far as I'm aware no agreement has been agreed with the handyman such as the work we want him to do or the hours we want him to work - let alone how much he wants to charge per hour.

When I questioned the need to agree to his increase in pay I was told that it would need to go to the finance committee and that was the end of that discussion - they then agreed to the monthly accounts.
asked by (270 points)

1 Answer

+1 vote
Oh dear.  What a mess (and I'm not referring to the litter in the park!)  "The council employs a handyman on a self employed basis..." as you're probably aware from the fact that you have raised this query, is a misleading statement.  The council may either employ an individual (with full employer's responsibilities) or engage a contractor (on a single task or ongoing basis).  You refer to "the need to agree to his increase in pay..." which would undoubtedly be a matter for the council (or a delegated committee) if the handyman is employed, but not necessarily for a self-employed contractor submitting invoices for work carried out.  Incidentally, the submission of invoices does not define the relationship.  There are many tests of the employed vs self-employed relationship, but in your case the key determinants would include whether you provide any tools or equipment and whether your handyman has the freedom to ask somebody else to cover for him if he is absent.

Check your standing orders and financial regulations for relevant issues and thresholds, as the increase from £75pcm to £95pcm takes the total contract value through the £1,000pa mark.  Check delegated authority in your finance committee's tems of reference.

Ask the Clerk to put this on the next agenda to enable the council to clarify the legal status of the relationship, then propose a schedule of agreed works to be undertaken.  You may also wish to re-advertise the role on a competitive basis to ensure best value is being achieved, although this may result in your current handyman walking away and no new applicants coming forward.

One further consideration - DBS check?  You're employing an individual to work unsupervised around children.
answered by (15.9k points)

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