Another financial time bomb ticks away

Blog post 30 July 2017

The Guardian newspaper has posed an age-old question: Who looks after the carers? Unexpectedly it concluded the taxman, but the answer is true – even though it may not be the whole truth.

Earlier this year, in a case brought by Unison, an employment tribunal ruled that carers who stay overnight so that they are there if their client needs help should be paid at the minimum wage.

The decision, though clearly a moral one, has far reaching implications as providers and charities have suddenly found themselves facing ‘another bill’. Those councils – most, I suspect – with stretched finances will also have to meet the obligations.

Up until now, overnight care was covered by its own set of rules which generally meant carers were paid less for overnights.

Most of these kind of night covers would see the carers being able to sleep. Minister have delayed the rolling out of the ruling until October, but “HMRC is now demanding that employers cough up the maximum of six years’ back pay,” reports The Guardian.

Provider and councils, I’d suggest, will simply not be able to cough up the estimated £400m bill.

Inevitably, it will result in private sector contracts with local authorities being handed back, bankruptcies, and those we care for being victims of a ruling they have had no part in.

The dom-care sector will be worst hit, along with the rights of all those people who need this kind of service as their chances to live independently, or just to receive overnight care at home as part of a bigger package, become financially compromised.

The seven-year austerity measures that have squeezed social care to breaking point surely must end soon . . . which brings me to the Green Paper on the way forward. We’re still waiting.