Letter - What about the ‘living wage’ for home care workers?

I am writing in response to last week’s front page headline in the Wakefield Express.

Wakefield Council are pushing for all its employees to be paid a minimum of a living wage of around £7.45 per hour, and none of its employees to be put on zero hours contacts.

The living wage is a very good idea, as is the curtailing of the burgeoning zero hours economy, but unfortunately Wakefield Council are being hypocritical on this issue.

The council has contracted out over the last few years most of its home care (domiciliary) provision to a growing raft of private run for profit providers. They compete in a race to the bottom to bid the lowest price for home care, and the council now buys much of its domiciliary care from the cheapest bidder.

Now home care workers are increasingly being paid less than the minimum wage, let alone the living wage, because they are often not paid for travel time between client calls, they receive rolled-up holiday pay, and they are on zero hours contracts with no guarantee of work.

Most home care workers do an excellent job and they deserve to be treated better than this. Cheap care also affects the elderly, sick or disabled clients too as they receive less time with carers as the council/private provider cuts back on the time slots allocated to them.

Wakefield Council claims that good pay and working conditions is morally right for its employees, but they condone the shedding of in-house local authority provided quality home care to save money and to drive down the pay and working conditions of home care workers who are now forced to work through exploitative private sector care providers, instead of a morally exclusive council.

M Boyce

Briary Close

Wakefield