The government must introduce measures to ensure employers don’t hold on to millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money intended for hard-up care workers, says UNISON today (Thursday).
The funding is part of a £600m social care package announced last week by the Prime Minister. Some of the money is aimed at providing financial help to care staff self-isolating with Covid-19 symptoms so they do not feel pressured into going into work. Its intention is also to top up the wages of those doing shifts at several care homes by encouraging them to reduce the number of workplaces they visit.
But UNISON believes checks are needed so care companies do not keep the money or use it to cover costs unrelated to the pandemic. Without any enforcement, there’s a danger the funding will never reach care staff in financial need, says UNISON.
UNISON has written to health and social care secretary Matt Hancock demanding guarantees that the money will be distributed properly.
In the letter, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis warns of a “serious possibility” that the funding could end up in the accounts of employers. He says this includes those with “a long track record of behaving irresponsibly and unfairly towards their staff.”
The letter adds: “Many social care workers could lose out and be left with no means of redress.
“Some have been off work shielding vulnerable family members for many weeks now, either having to get by on statutory sick pay rates of just over £95 a week, or in some cases on no pay at all.”
UNISON is also calling for the government to clarify whether payments for care workers who have been off work will be backdated to the start of the crisis. This would ensure their family finances are not affected, says the union.
Notes to editors:
– The full letter can be found here.
– Of the £600m, £113m will go to devolved administrations using the Barnett formula, with the Scottish government receiving £58m, the Welsh government £35m and Northern Ireland £20m.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.
– UNISON has been campaigning to ensure care workers can self-isolate if they show symptoms of Covid-19 on full pay. Care workers are being forced to choose between their family’s survival and spreading the virus to the elderly, vulnerable people they care for. There is more about UNISON’s campaign to #StopTheSpread at www.unison.org.uk/stopthespread
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