Services will be cut and social care bodies put at risk

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John McDonald says the Scottish Government must fully fund charities to pay staff the living wage or services will be cut and charities could close

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20th October 2017 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

Real Life Options has significant concerns about both implementing and not implementing the living wage for sleepovers.

We have a group turnover of around £40 million and operate across Scotland and England employing nearly 2,000 people and supporting nearly 1,500 people. We have over 350 sleepovers a week, almost 19,000 in a year, in Scotland.

Our concerns is there is no funding provision to make this happen at present. There is no guarantee that local authorities will pass any available funding over in full. Implementing would cost all organisations with sleepovers significant additional costs that they are currently not funded for.

John McDonald

John McDonald

If unfunded this could require a complete redesign of many services for people who are very vulnerable, potentially threatening their wellbeing and safety

Not implementing leaves staff in a position where they would have two wage rates, one the living wage for non-sleepover time and the other the minimum wage for sleep over time. We see this as inequitable, undervaluing staff commitment. It could leave some staff reluctant to take on sleepover duties as they would be paid less for the same job role, if the intention is not fully and adequately funded.

Quite simply the living wage rate for sleepovers needs to be fully funded. If unfunded this could require a complete redesign of many services for people who are very vulnerable, potentially threatening their wellbeing and safety.

Redesigning services should be pursued as we are all partners in seeking to achieve value for money, but it is by no means a universal solution for everyone who is supported. We have already been working with many of our partner local authorities to redesign sleepover arrangements to make them more cost effective, sharing or removing them wherever possible. This is something we have been working on over the past four years with some success.

Even with this effort and some effective partnership working we are still faced with additional cost approaching seven figures for the remaining sleepovers if these are not fully funded.

In the majority of our local authority operating areas in Scotland we are funded to deliver the living wage during day time hours and we have implemented this in full across all our services. There are two exceptions to this but we are still negotiating with those authorities.

To implement the living wage for sleepover would add approaching £700,000 to our wage bill in Scotland, even where we are currently funded for daytime hours at the living wage. We are by no means the organisation with the largest number of sleepovers in Scotland. Some sister organisations have much larger volumes of sleepovers and would therefore carry a much greater financial risk if not fully funded.

There is also a risk in all of this that people’s individual overnight support arrangements will undergo radical changes over which they will have little or no choice and control, in direct opposition to the government’s own flagship policy of self-directed support.

The living wage commitment continues to focus exclusively on front-line adult social care staff, so whilst pay for these workers has quite rightly gone up, pay for other parts of the workforce has remained largely static. With the extension of the Living Wage to sleepovers, the resulting anomalies will grow and this will create further cost pressure in the system. It will also have a major impact on the efforts that we have made to develop and promote career pathways and pay progression within staffing structures, to make social care an attractive career option.

Ultimately, if the living wage for sleepovers is implemented without adequate funding it would almost certainly create large unfunded financial gaps for many organisations, potentially pushing some towards financial unsustainability. This could create a range of organisational failures across the sector, risking the services that support many vulnerable individuals.

Not implementing leaves staff in a position where they would have two wage rates, one the living wage for non-sleepover time and the other the minimum wage for sleep over time. We see this as inequitable, undervaluing staff commitment. It could leave some staff reluctant to take on sleepover duties as they would be paid less for the same job role, if the intention is not fully and adequately funded.

Quite simply the living wage rate for sleepovers needs to be fully funded. If unfunded this could require a complete redesign of many services for people who are very vulnerable, potentially threatening their well-being and safety.

Redesigning services should be pursued as we are all partners in seeking to achieve value for money, but it is by no means a universal solution for everyone who is supported. We have already been working with many of our partner local authorities to redesign sleepover arrangements to make them more cost effective, sharing or removing them wherever possible. This is something we have been working on over the past four years with some success.

Even with this effort and some effective partnership working we are still faced with additional cost approaching seven figures for the remaining sleepovers if these are not fully funded.

In the majority of our local authority operating areas in Scotland we are funded to deliver the living wage during day time hours and we have implemented this in full across all our services. There are two exceptions to this but we are still negotiating with those authorities.

To implement the living wage for sleepover would add approaching £700,000 to our wage bill in Scotland, even where we are currently funded for daytime hours at the living wage. We are by no means the organisation with the largest number of sleepovers in Scotland. Some sister organisations have much larger volumes of sleepovers and would therefore carry a much greater financial risk if not fully funded.

There is also a risk in all of this that people’s individual overnight support arrangements will undergo radical changes over which they will have little or no choice and control, in direct opposition to the government’s own flagship policy of self-directed support.

The living wage commitment continues to focus exclusively on front-line adult social care staff, so whilst pay for these workers has quite rightly gone up, pay for other parts of the workforce has remained largely static. With the extension of the Living Wage to sleepovers, the resulting anomalies will grow and this will create further cost pressure in the system. It will also have a major impact on the efforts that we have made to develop and promote career pathways and pay progression within staffing structures, to make social care an attractive career option.

Ultimately, if the living wage for sleepovers is implemented without adequate funding it would almost certainly create large unfunded financial gaps for many organisations, potentially pushing some towards financial unsustainability. This could create a range of organisational failures across the sector, risking the services that support many vulnerable individuals.

John McDonald is executive director of Real Life Options