Living Wage “should be enforced” on care sector

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Union demands organisations pay the full figure while charities say they aren't receiving full funding to do so 

11th December 2019 by Robert Armour 3 Comments

Living wage rates should be enforced in the charity care sector, a trade union has demanded.

Unison called on the Scottish Government to step in to enforce payment of the £9.30 an hour Scottish Living Wage (SLW) to all staff following a dispute with Richmond Fellowship Scotland - one of the largest providers of social care services in the country. 

According to the union Richmond refuses to fully implement the policy. However the Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland (CCPS) said care groups were not receiving adequate resources to do so.  

Deborah Clarke, Unison regional organiser for third sector in Scotland, said: “Despite repeated requests, the Richmond Fellowship Scotland refuses to engage with us and continues to pay regional poverty pay to its staff without any negotiation.   

“These care staff are sadly not valued enough by the organisation to provide a decent and fair wage to everyone in their organisation across Scotland leaving staff, many low paid women, vulnerable and feeling undervalued. This is simply not acceptable.   

“These carers do life-changing, challenging work, caring for some of the most vulnerable people in Scotland. We call on The Richmond Fellowship to implement the SLW for all their staff and for the government to investigate why this charity that refuses to pay the SLW is still being awarded public contracts.”

In 2016, the Scottish Government announced all social care staff in Scotland should be paid the real living wage and made £255 million available over three years to help public, private and third sector social care bodies increase wages, including covering increase National Insurance and pension contributions.

However last year CCPS released research showing only 30% of third-sector social care organisations paying the SLW were getting enough funding to do so.

Annie Gunner Logan, director of CCPS, said Richmond was not alone not alone among third sector organisations in finding itself unable to fully implement the 2019 increase to the Living Wage.

She added: “The most recent CCPS Living Wage survey found that whilst most employers are now paying £9 per hour for daytime working, more than a third are not yet in a position to pay it for sleepover shifts, despite this having been a policy commitment since March.

“The reason for this is entirely straightforward: local authorities are failing to provide adequate levels of funding. For daytime working, 41% of the hourly rates offered by authorities are considered by providers to be inadequate to the task; for sleepovers, that figure rises to 54%.

“Unison is well aware of these figures, not least because it has a senior representative serving on the Living Wage Implementation Group which has had sight of, and has discussed, all our detailed survey data."

A spokesperson for Richond Fellowship Scotland said: “We know the issue of funding and the need for adequate resourcing. We have concluded negotiations with most local authorities. In areas where there is a shortfall in the offer we have funded 90% of the anticipated amount. We always back date pay increases once adequacy of payment is agreed.”

Local authorities are failing to provide adequate levels of funding - Annie Gunner Logan

"We would very much welcome Unison’s support in pressing the Scottish Government, Cosla and individual local authorities to release adequate funding to all social care providers, so that they can successfully implement this critically important policy.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said providers, trades unions and local authorities should work together to make the Living Wage happen.  

“The Scottish Government agrees with the Fair Work Convention that enhancing fair work for social care workers is crucial to ensuring a workforce for the future – and to delivering high quality social care services for some of our most vulnerable citizens.

“To support this, we have provided resources to enable adult social care workers to be paid the real Living Wage since October 2016. We have extended this commitment to include sleepover hours which we expect to be delivered in all contracts.”

12th December 2019 by Trevor A

Rather than trying to bash the charities which are struggling to provide support and would gladly pay their staff above the Living Wage if they were able to do so, UNISON should be directing their ire towards the Government (national and local) and demanding they properly resource the service.

13th December 2019 by Alex thompson

Good old unison. I cannot get my 2.5% increase because of you. My backdated money helps at Christmas.

13th December 2019 by JOHN F ROBINS

Charities should stop cheaply filling the huge gaps left in vital social care due to Government prioritising other areas of spending. Our taxes should be used to provide training and realistic living wages to ensure those who need support are not denied it. If politicians want high speed rail links, new nuclear weapons and £70K a year salaries, let them shake collecting cans and apply for grants to pay for them.