LAST week an investigation revealed that despite their long hours and hard work, hundreds of Lancashire care workers are paid under the real living wage.
In this special report we look at the crisis facing the care sector, with part three focusing on an ongoing campaign to convince local councils to sign up to more ethical rules.
CARE workers across the county have called upon local authorities to help tackle low pay and overwork by changing how the system works.
This comes after an investigation found that hundreds of carers across the county, and many more all over Britain, were paid underpaid, overworked and in many cases struggled to earn enough to support their own families.
Not only that, but another Lancashire care worker has come forward to point out that they also have to pay for petrol for travelling between visits and wear and tear on their vehicles which in many cases puts their earnings below the minimum wage.
She said: “This has needed highlighting for far too long.
“We do what we do as we genuinely care, it’s a difficult job at the best of times but we get to meet some amazing people and fantastic families.
“The only press that carers get is bad press, yes there are some unscrupulous people in the job but there are also those who stay with clients longer than the allocated time, unpaid, and go the extra mile to ensure the service user has what they need.
“I cannot remember the last time we were recognised for what we do.”
In response, Blackburn with Darwen Trades Union Council have said that signing up to an ethical care charter which would see care commissioning based on the needs of clients, zero-hour contracts to be replaced by permanent contracts, and all carers to be paid at least the living wage.
However, neither Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council nor Lancashire County Council are amongst the 43 authorities across the country to have signed up.
BADTUC president Vikki Dugdale said: “Unison have asked them about it in the past and they’ve never agreed to take it up.
“It’s been a while since we last asked them, before the pandemic, and the reason they gave was because of budget concerns, they were worried about costs.”
She added: “Blackburn has been hit a lot harder than a lot of other areas, around 40 per cent of their funding has been cut since 2010 and the way the formula functions has changed so areas with the most deprivation have been the hardest hit with money redirected towards more affluent areas.
“But you have to make choices.”
According to Ms Dugdale, signing up to the charter would go along way towards addressing the ongoing crisis in the care sector and would give carers themselves a sense of much needed security.
She said: “It would give them some certainty around their hours, some certainty that their employer won’t be able to cut their pay and that they’re entitled to sick pay.”
However, responding to last week’s low pay revelations, the Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council said it aims to ensure carers receive at least the minimum wage.
Executive member for adult services and prevention Mustafa Desai said: “Blackburn with Darwen Council always aims to ensure that the money we pay to our care providers meets national living wage minimum levels or above, to make sure that carers can then be paid at the living wage.
“The funding coming in to local authorities and the challenges faced by our care providers can make this very difficult however as care commissioners it is something we review regularly and we do work with the care market as much as we can on this.”
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