By Debbie le Quesne

Three pc rise move on minimum wage

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The Low Pay Commission has recommended a three per cent rise in the National Minimum Wage.

I caught the news on the BBC and although I support every principle of proper pay for the job, my heart sank.

If accepted by Government, and I strongly suspect it will, it will place further strain on an already-creaking social care industry.

Central Government really must face the facts that the fees they pay to private sector providers are shockingly out of touch with reality. I can only hope that such a hike in pay structures for the care sector will be recognised by Cabinet and more funding decanted to local authorities to meet the need.

I read on the Care Industry News website that In February, the BBC used the Freedom of Information Act to discover that only four out of 101 councils in England paid at or above UKHCA’s minimum price for homecare of £15.19 per hour.

The three percent uplift will see the National Minimum Wage go from £6.31 to £6.50 per hour – and with our care and nursing homes and ‘domcare’ services, I have to ask: Where will the money be found?

In turn, this rise would effectively increase United Kingdom Homecare Association’s recommended minimum price to £15.74, a figure far in excess of that offered by most local authorities.

UKHCA Chair Mike Padgham was reported as saying: “We all want to see the homecare workers properly rewarded for the demanding and essential work they do.  However, local authorities have persistently failed to recognise these cost pressures.

“It is imperative that a Government which acts on the Low Pay Commission’s recommendation to increase the Minimum Wage also heeds the Commission’s urge for a requirement for councils to take account of the full costs of care in the statutory guidance it is currently preparing on commissioning of social care.”

Well said!

The commission said it had to balance increased costs for businesses against doing more to help the lowest paid, adding that  the economic recovery justified the move.

But the commission and Government seem to be deaf to the fact that the private care sector is a Cinderella industry – over worked and under valued by those who, indeed, should know better.

Since the economic downturn the minimum wage has risen faster than other wages, the Beeb reported.

I am between a rock and hard place here: Do I wish for carers to be properly paid? Indeed yes; but I know this news will be crippling for so many of the providers I represent. There must be a moral obligation on the Alliance to respond in generous fiscal terms to this news.

You see, Mr Cameron, we have run out of smart thinking, of making economies, and no longer can shelve reinvestment.

Perhaps, when social care fails and there’s a national scandal akin to the Stafford Hospital horror, your Cabinet will realise that caring really does cost money and frankly, we need it now.

* Those aged 16-17 would see an increase of just under two per cent, to £3.79 an hour.

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