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Calls to sort out care sector problems

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By Rod Edgar
Front
Calls to sort out care sector problems

PROBLEMS within the region’s care industry need to be tackled as a priority by merged NHS and social work services.

That is the message from Dumfries Welfare Rights to the new Integration Joint Board, which meets for the first time next month with an annual budget of £300 million.
Bill McCormack from Welfare Rights said: “Care providers have been shouting and screaming for years that they don’t get paid enough.”
Urging those financing care services to insist upon a restructuring, he added: “The bottom line is that the frontline workers are the ones being paid to do that job.
“They’re not paying them to have middle-managers, co-ordinators, supervisors and managers. That’s not part of the funding, and they must get their priorities right. It’s the staff that are doing the work that need to come first.”
Mr McCormack points to carers who regularly work 14 hours per day, but who are only paid for eight hours due to unpaid travel time getting to their first client, returning home, and travel time between visits.
And he argues breaches of employment law, where care workers who sleep over at clients’ homes for ten hours may be paid only £25 to £30—well below a minimum wage which was until recently £6.50 per hour.
Mr McCormack claims one service provider is now attempting to circumvent the minimum wage by averaging hourly payments across the week, bringing them above the minimum.
And he argues the increase in the minimum wage from this month to £6.70 as well as Government plans for a Living Wage of £7.20 from next April and for workers to be paid for travelling time, will put increased financial pressure on already stretched care
providers.
Turning Point Scotland provide support in the region to adults with a range of complex needs, and director of finance Kenneth Crawford said: “There is no doubt these changes will have a significant financial impact on care providers.”
Explaining work is underway with partner organisation to address the impact of the recession and subsequent budget reductions, he describes ‘an extremely challenging time for the social care sector’.
He said: “It is therefore important we find sustainable solutions, in order to continue to deliver the high standards of care to the people we support, some of whom are among the most vulnerable in society.”

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