By Debbie le Quesne

Forced to break minimum wage law because of care cuts

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Attend a meeting of care providers over the next few days and I guarantee the unofficial agenda will be centred around the latest news on the cuts.

Cuts so deep, it appears, that according to The Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Alzheimer’s Forum, Twitter tweets, The Public Sector Executive and any number of health care bloggers, care homes are forced to break the £6,31 minimum wage due to lack of council finding.

A government body – The Low Pay Commission – has issued the warning. David Norgrave of the Commission is reported in the Mail online that Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has identified 120 care providers for investigation.

To cut costs, care companies are allegedly using tactics such as not paying for travel time between care visits, so that they don’t have to pay the minimum wage.

It’s an old chestnut, been in the news before and this issue will not go away.

And I can understand why. Just look at what the United Kingdom Homecare Association estimates: That a homecare company needs to be paid a minimum of £14.95 an hour by a council to fulfill wage law and training responsibilities.

But the UKHA believes that one in five councils were now paying £11 or less, the lowest being £8.98 an hour.

Well, that’s a surprise (NOT).

The Mail adds: “The association said that 90 per cent of councils had slashed its members payments in the past year, leaving them struggling to comply with the minimum wage law – the alternative being they stop trading or go out of business.”

There’s more in the article, this is enough for me to chew on for a day or two.

Other publications are beating the same drum.

What will it take for this Cabinet to sit up and listen? Their arrogance is matched only by their ignorance regarding the issues of the care industry.

And here’s a question I’d like to see answered: If, as now we all know, the care sector is so being deprived of funds to the point of collapse, how will we care for an increasingly aged population? We need proper leadership, a Cabinet that gives priority to the care sector and not least, politicians who will represent us in securing the wellbeing of our frail, elderly, long-term sick and vulnerable.

Elections looming – let’s see if the tune changes.

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