Posted on 26/07/2017 by
The government's made a climbdown after it was warned of a 'collapse' in care - but charities say the announcement doesn't go far enough
Campaigners have warned a whole part of the industry faces 'collapse'
Disabled people's care has been thrown a lifeline after a bill for SIX YEARS of back pay was put on hold.
In a climbdown by the government, charities and firms that offer at-home help now have until October to find up to £400million after warning the bill would bankrupt them.
But the announcement has already been branded not good enough because it includes no public funds to plug the gap.
The government demanded the cash after deciding carers should be paid more for sleeping in a client's home following two tribunal rulings.
Unions and Labour agreed carers should get the pay they deserve and UNISON warned providers must not "plead poverty".
But Mencap charity chairman Derek Lewis warned the impact would be "devastating" and trigger "multiple insolvencies". He joined the bosses of care charities HFT and United Response and private firm Voyage Care in an hour-long meeting with two Tory ministers last week.
In a compromise today, the government announced its demands for so-called 'sleep-in' cash will be temporarily suspended until 2 October 2017.
Meanwhile ministers will "look at this issue extremely carefully" to "see whether any further support is needed".
Last week the Patients Association said "charities cannot be left to pick up the tab" and Disability Rights UK said the government must "fully fund back payments".
Mr Lewis said today's announcement does not go far enough and "time is running out".
“The government say they will consider this further but they have heard for months about the mayhem this will cause," he said. "The announcement does not address the core request made by the sector at all.”
He added: "Employers are keen to fulfil their responsibilities to employees. But if the Government changes the rules on how sleep-in payments should be paid it must expect to have to pay for the changes.
"We reiterate our call to Government to accept its responsibility and make an urgent commitment to fund the back pay bill, for the sake of those vulnerable people who depend on this care and for the dedicated people who provide that care."
A statement by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said the measures were designed to "minimise disruption".
Historic fines and penalties over and above the back pay will also be waived for 'sleep-in' disputes dating from before 26 July 2017.
The BEIS statement said: "The government remains equally committed to making sure workers in this sector receive the minimum wage they are legally entitled to, including historic arrears.
"The long-term stability and success of the social care sector is a priority and the government has already allocated an extra £2bn of funding to the sector, including an extra £1bn this year.
"The government will continue to look at this issue extremely carefully alongside industry representatives to see whether any further support is needed and ensure that action taken to protect workers is fair and proportionate, while seeing how it might be possible to minimise any impact on social care provision."
Rules drawn up nearly 20 years ago said the minimum wage only had to be paid in full while carers were awake.
But after two employment tribunals, new guidance in October last year said at-home carers should receive the rate even when in bed.
HMRC then ordered years worth of back pay from many of the 200 organisations that provide learning disability care.
Mencap warned some of the 178,000 people in England who receive help for learning disabilities could lose it altogether.
Research by social care advisors Cordis Bright estimated providers faced a total bill of £160million to £400million.