As a result of growing concern from Care at Home and Housing Support providers Scottish Care has issued the following Press Statement.
CRISIS LOOMS FOR ELDERLY CARE SERVICES OVER IMPLEMENTATION OF SCOTTISH LIVING WAGE
The introduction of the Scottish Living Wage to staff working in homecare services for the elderly is in danger of not being achieved in a sustainable manner by October 1 or thereafter.
Details of the crisis in the sector have been revealed by Scottish Care, the representative body for the country’s independent social care services.
Chief Executive Dr Donald Macaskill has revealed that crucial talks with local health and social care partnerships over the allocation of funding to meet SLW commitments have run into major difficulties.
He said that of the 28 local authority areas where his members currently provide important care services, 13 have either not tabled an offer to providers or had made an offer which was substantially unsustainable.
A further 8 tabled offers which needed further work to ensure services can remain viable, and only 7 had worked with providers to reach mutually acceptable funding agreements.
Dr Macaskill said this inability to recognise the value of the care sector raises huge concerns for providers, their staff and the individuals and families they support.
He continued: “We are pleased that in some parts of Scotland there has been positive partnership work which will enable the payment of the Scottish Living Wage to workers from the 1st October. However, in a significant number of areas there has been either no offer made or one which will make businesses, whether charities or private providers, unsustainable. We are particularly concerned ton the impact of small, often family run businesses, which do not have reserves to draw on to make up the gap between what they are being offered and the cost of paying staff the SLW.
We have less than two weeks to go to achieve this real step forward for the people who do the hard, dedicated work of care in Scotland. I am calling on our partners in the Integrated Joint Boards and local authorities to get around the table, to work with us, so that we can still make this work by the 1st October.
He added, “I have this weekend informed our membership that they should not accept any offer that risks putting them out of business. Were they to accept some of the rate on offer in effect what would happen would be that they would within weeks be out of business resulting in thousands of workers losing their jobs and countless numbers of our older citizens having their care and support badly affected. We cannot allow that to happen. We have to pay reasonable, fair and a right rate for the care and support of our citizens. We cannot get care on the cheap.”
It is a matter of deep concern for providers that achieving the rightful payment of the SLW to their staff risks eroding other Fair Work practices because of a lack of engagement with local providers by some local authorities.
“In addition, providers in some areas will have to eat into budgets for training, learning and development at a time when it is essential to grow the skills base and capacity of the workforce to meet the changing and complex needs of the people they support.”
Dr Macaskill stressed the need to develop a national funding model for homecare services to address the inequity of funding between independent care services on behalf of the public sector, and those operated by public bodies directly.
Dr Macaskill added:
“Scottish Care is extremely disappointed at the lack of transparent partnership working in some partnership areas.
“As a result, Scottish Care does not believe that the intention of this policy, namely to advance the status of frontline care workers and to improve the reward and recognition of a critical workforce, is currently likely to be achieved.
“We remain committed to ensuring the SLW is implemented, recognising as we do that it could have a positive impact on the sector’s ability to attract and retain a committed workforce with the right values and skills to meet the increasing demands on care services.
“But there needs to be recognition that extra funding is needed to achieve this. Local Partnerships tell us they are struggling to pay enough from what they have been given. If this is the case then we are calling on Scottish Government to support their own policy with additional resource where necessary.
‘If we are going to build a workforce which today and tomorrow will be skilled and equipped to support our citizens in their own homes, then we need to reward them with equitable baseline pay, terms and conditions. That requires Partnerships to work with us to achieve the Scottish Living Wage.”