Funding must go to care workers in need, not employers’ bank accounts, says UNISON

Government must ensure cash goes to staff

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.

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