Two providers of care in Surrey and Londonmhave faced stark choices: lose contracts to provide care for the most vulnerable in our communities, or make drastic savings says GMB
In 2013, Prospect Housing which provides residential and supported living care for Surrey County Council slashed pay and conditions for some of their staff in order to satisfy Surrey’s demand for savings. The GMB trade union took Prospect to Employment Tribunal last year and won a case for its members about these cuts. Members’ terms and conditions were reinstated but the situation for Prospect and other care providers remains the same. They are receiving less from the councils than the services cost to run.
GMB has members at another care provider Choice Support who work for London Borough of Merton. The re-tendering process saw over £400,000 being cut from the original bid price. Choice have won the bid but with the inevitable end result. Staff members face losing a third of their monthly wage – around £600 – £700. Again they are faced with working a huge amount of extra hours (over 50 hours per week), walking away from their jobs, or claiming benefits to make up the difference. Some are afraid they will lose their homes. Many staff members are ex-NHS and have been told that Choice will no longer be able to pay into their pension. Dedicated workers will not only have huge cuts now but will face a much poorer
Sheila Carlson, Regional Organiser for the GMB said “Huge cuts have been made in central government funding to local councils. These cuts have in turn been passed on to providers of services. With over 80% of the cost of care being staff costs, it is easy to see where any cuts will fall. Care workers who earn low wages anyway, are now facing even further attacks to their income. People who can least afford it are carrying the burden of this government’s attempt to curb spending.
This story is being repeated across the country. Councils see cutting the care budgets as an easy option. They have a statutory duty to look after the elderly and disabled but because so many have outsourced these services, they can bully providers into further and further economies.
“With increasing numbers of elderly people requiring care, the situation can only get worse if current policies continue. The care industry, like the NHS, is at crisis level. Dedicated staff should not be made to pick up the tab for poor fiscal decisions by this increasingly failing coalition government. The people who will ultimately suffer will be the residents”