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Corporate Governance

For the year ended 31 December 2023, under The Companies (Miscellaneous Reporting) Regulations 2019, the Group has applied the Wates Corporate Governance Principles for Large Private Companies (published by the Financial Reporting Council (‘FRC’) in December 2018 and available on the FRC website). The following paragraphs summarise how the Company has applied the principles over the past year:

Principle 1 – Purpose and leadership

Helping Hands exists to improve the lives of our customers, be a great place to work for a highly engaged and skilled workforce, and to provide services to more vulnerable adults and allow them to stay in their own homes. Unlike many home care providers our service is managed from start to finish by a team of resolute care managers local to the customer. A key focus for the Board in 2023 has been embedding the success of our recruitment and retention strategies for care workers so we can continue to provide sector-leading care to people in their own home, and to invest in new specialist roles to support the efficient and effective front-line delivery of our service. This ensures that the Group has a reputation as one of the most trusted businesses in the sector, that it invests in its carers and customers, that it treats them fairly and that it manages its risks and delivers its promises, safely, on time, and at the right quality.

Principle 2 – Board composition

The Board structure comprises a separate Chair and Chief Executive to ensure that the balance of responsibilities, accountabilities and decision making are maintained effectively, as well as a Group Managing Director, Chief Financial Officer, two shareholder non-executives, one independent non-executive and two non-executive Directors from the family. This size and composition is appropriate to the Group’s large yet focused business. Independent non-executive directors bring experience in addition to perspectives and challenge from outside the sectors in which the Group operates.

Principle 3 – Director responsibilities

The Board has a programme of twelve principal meetings every year. As part of every Group Board meeting, the governance of the Group is included as a standing agenda item. The Board’s key areas of focus in 2023 are noted in the ‘Directors’ statement of compliance with duty to promote the success of the Company (s172 statement)’as included in the 2023 Annual Report. The Board receives regular and timely information on all key aspects of the business, including health and safety, risks and opportunities, the financial performance of the business, strategy, operational matters, market conditions and sustainability, all supported by Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Principle 4 – Opportunity and risk

The Board seeks out opportunity whilst mitigating risk. The Group’s key operational risks and mitigations are outlined below:

Workforce Recruitment and Retention: Recruitment and retention of skilled workforce across all roles is of paramount importance. With well documented extensive challenges in the social care employment market, this remains a key focus of review and activity by the Board and Executive.

National Minimum Wage: The Board remains mindful of the need for full implementation of the National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage and also of the focus on our sector from HMRC. We continue to take all necessary steps to ensure that we are a respected employer in the sector and to mitigate any risks of non-compliance by paying our carers at rates above statutory minimums. During 2023 the Company also received clean results on inspections for Employer Compliance (PAYE) and Furlough, which assured the board of the continued focus on compliance with all HMRC procedures in the business.

Reputational risk: The Company’s business activities could give rise to certain reputational risks. These are managed tightly with thorough quality control measures, which are checked and validated by the company’s internal Quality Assurance function, along with regular robust mandatory training sessions. The company also regularly reviews advice from external providers in order to give Board and Executive team assurance that the business continues to operate within a strong control, high quality environment.

Risk surrounding the cost of living crisis: The Executive team and business leaders recognise the increasing financial pressure on both employees and customers during this time. Management will continue to implement a range of measures to alleviate financial pressures where necessary by reviewing remuneration packages and alternate contracts where possible and seeking external support to review the service packages we offer. Directors are of the opinion that any costs associated with any measures taken will not represent a material risk to the future performance of the business.

Financial risks: The key financial risks are:

  • Liquidity risk: The Group actively manages its liquidity using operating cash flows to ensure the Group has sufficient available funds for its operations.
  • Credit risk: The Company has implemented policies that require appropriate credit checks on potential customers before sales are made. Management assess the credit quality of the customer, taking into account its financial position, past experience and other factors. Individual risk limits are set based on internal or external ratings in accordance with limits set by the board. The utilisation of credit limits is regularly monitored.

We remain confident that these material risks can be mitigated to ensure the continued smooth running of our business, albeit we will continue to monitor them closely.

Principle 5 – Remuneration

The Board’s primary objective is to set remuneration at a level that will enhance the Group’s resources by securing and retaining quality senior management who can deliver the Group’s strategic ambitions in a manner consistent with both its purpose and the interests of its shareholders and all stakeholders.

Principle 6 – Stakeholders

The Board is clear that good governance and effective communication are essential on a day-to-day basis to enable the business to fulfil its purpose and to protect the Group’s brand, reputation and relationships with all its stakeholders including shareholders, customers, employees, suppliers, regulators, financial institutions and the communities in which it works.