The Door Supervision Industry 2022 – Fair Play or ‘Own Goal’?

It’s been 21 years since the Private Security Industry Act (PSIA), 2001 placed regulation upon some of the Private Security Industry, and whatever your thoughts on the success or otherwise of this, there is no doubt that it is here to stay in one form or another.

So before I impart my opinions, let me explain who I am, what I’ve done and why it gives me the ‘Right’ to pontificate on the subject of providing Door Supervision (DS) services in the UK. 

I was a Cop for 18 years and I retired on ‘Ill Health’ (an injury on duty) in 1997. As an ex  – Cop I resisted the temptation to transition to ‘Investigations and Security’ until the early 2000’s when I got a call from a former colleague and was asked to instruct in a trial licensing scheme for DS, one of a few that were going on around the country at the time. I said yes and it’s fair to say my life changed from that point.

In 2003 I took the SIA DS Instructor course, did a few SIA DS courses and in October 2004 I started Repton Security Ltd. This was a transition of an existing company that already had some Security Guarding (SG) and DS contracts and I took these over and ran them from day one. The first (and best) thing I did was to make all the ‘Employees’ who were previously ‘Self – Employed’, bona fide employees, paid through the PAYE system. 

The immediate effect of this was that my employees were around 10 – 25% worse off (many had not been paying Tax….) and the Company was around 30% worse off due to the liabilities of Employers’ National Insurance, Holiday and Sick pay, and that’s just to start the list. 

I’m happy to say that Repton had done well and up until 2012 we did several ‘Doors’ and were used by the local Police Licensing team as the ideal model for DS providers and a source of knowledge. However, ‘Doing it right in Law‘ in the DS sector puts you in the minority and at a distinct disadvantage.

I did a survey in my local city in 2010 and at that time I found that 68% of the DS I asked were taking cash for payment and the going rate at the time was around £8-9 per hour; Repton was paying £10.00+ through PAYE. However, it all came to a head for me when my clients were being offered DS (by the guys running their show from the front seat of a Range Rover), for less money than it actually cost Repton to pay its DS and although we never lost a client to this, I knew it was time to get out of the DS game……

Interestingly the National Minimum Wage (NMW / NLW) in October 2010 was £5.93 per hour and at Repton we paid a £4.50 per hour premium for DS work. The NLW is now £9.50 per hour and you all know what you get paid as a DS, so what has suppressed pay over 12 years? I know the answer and most of you as DS’s are not going to like it.

I have previously touched on pay via the PAYE system and being ‘Self -Employed’. With the former, your employer deducts Tax (20%), National Insurance (13.25%) and Work Place Pension (up to 5%) and in return for the best part of 35% of your pay you get Holiday and Sick Pay and Employment rights and protections. 

When ‘Self – Employed’ you pay Tax on whatever you earn less ‘Business Expenditure’ and National Insurance at a vastly reduced rate; you do not get Holiday or Sick Pay and you have no Employment rights or protections. 

And without your own Public Liability insurance, you may not even be insured properly at work. However, this normally equates to being better off financially than being paid via PAYE, and if you pay no Tax, well you keep it all.

Historically, the DS role has been a ‘Second Job’ for those that do it and the cash received usually went in the trouser pocket and unfortunately this still occurs today; it is now however more mainstream from the employment perspective for many DS. 

But what about the security company that put you on the Door and pays you cash? By treating you as ‘Self – Employed’ they immediately save themselves 35+% that Repton as a bona fide employer has to pay out. This is a huge financial advantage in business because it means prices can be suppressed to keep professional companies out of the game and yet still retains a decent profit margin as no one is paying any Tax. 

As a DS you might think this is good news, but it’s not. It is the reason DS pay is far too low and it is too low because you as a DS are prepared to work and be exploited by others, just to be a few quid better off yourself. 

Had the PSIA, 2001 imposed mandatory ‘Business Regulation’ in 2006 as it should have, then DS pay would have risen at least in proportion to the NWM / NLW, which means that no DS would today be getting under £13.00 per hour. 

The reality is that had the DS sector been allowed to be driven by the professionalism and quality of bona fide security companies, rather than the corruption ofTax Evasion‘, DS pay would probably be £15.00 per hour and over today.

So it is simple. If you are a DS who takes cash from a security provider, you are helping suppress prices and being exploited, whilst making the security provider rich. You have no employment rights or protections whilst working in a sector full of risk, your earnings don’t qualify for a pension and you cannot use them to get a mortgage to buy a home. 

But remember, you cannot use the ‘System’ as the means to complain about pay and conditions if you are not a part of the System and contributing to it.

Unfortunately Tax Evasion is now happening in the Security Guarding (SG) sector where SG’s are being forced to be ‘Self – Employed’ and are paid under an ‘Over Arching’ scheme by a third party, so that the security provider can absolve themselves of financial and other employment liabilities just to increase their profit margins. Again there’s only one person getting rich from all this…….

Corrupt security companies are not going to change and unfortunately far too many DS will never ‘See the light’ on this subject and so the only hope for the Private Security Industry is mandatory Business Regulation, and a set of operating rules and standards by which all stakeholders must operate.

Steve Rimmington

Managing Director / Owner

Repton Security Ltd

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