Struggling To Pay the Living Wage

Created on 26 September 2016

Earlier this year, the Scottish Government promised that all social care workers would get at least  the  Living Wage, currently at £8.25 per hour.

Social care providers have been badly squeezed over the last few years with frozen budgets and unrealistic tenders from councils.  Staff wages have been the main victim and in many areas retail workers are paid more than care workers.

Now with only a few weeks to go till the deadline, Scottish Care and CCPS are reporting that many councils have not put funding plans in place yet

Some councils have made reasonable efforts to resolve the matter.  Aberdeen City, which has long had a problem recruiting social care worker due to the high wages on offer elsewhere has offered a rise of 6.4% on all contracts.

Many social care providers already pay more than the living wage and the question of how to support those who have always valued their staff has challenged  local authorities.

Falkirk has raised the price for all hourly contracts to £16.50 which they think will allow providers to pay the Living Wage.  For those who were higher than this, there is only a 50p an hour increase.

Glasgow demonstrates the difference between Care Homes and Care At Home services.  Care Homes are covered by a National Contract so Glasgow is increasing its offer for this by 6.5%.  Its offer to Care at Home providers is only 3.1%.

North Lanarkshire has not stated what it is going to do but it has increased  wages of ”in house” staff to £12.17 per hour at a cost of £5.4 million because of “equal pay” legislation.  It’s a shame such rules only applies to council staff.

Part of what drives the reluctance to meet the full cost of the Living Wage, is that any savings can be used by councils for other purposes.  East Lothian is planning to put its “saving” of twice the cost of the Living Wage into more Care At Home Hours.

In another development, Glasgow is giving some  providers an opportunity to be more flexible in their “Proof of Concept” scheme.  They will no longer count hours of support so providers can spend more on wages as long as services users still get  good outcomes.  Of course, there is still a  sting in the tail, with the council expecting this scheme to deliver 5% budget savings!


Created 25 July 2016

Our ambition is for sustained public investment in the development of a modern, nationwide infrastructure of social care support.

The social care support we envision will be an instrument of transformative social change.

It will protect, promote and ensure human rights and tackle inequalities for disabled people and carers. We believe that this infrastructure will also play a critical role in building and sustaining Scotland’s social and economic prosperity.

This infrastructure should facilitate the delivery of a statutory framework of common outcomes, underpinned by clear and consistent nationwide rights and entitlements. In order to reflect and adapt to the varied local contexts across Scotland, we believe the administration and delivery of this social care support should be a local  matter, involving local government and other statutory and non-statutory agencies and organisations, disabled people and carers.

Read the Easy Read Guide to Our Ambition For The Future of Social Care Support


Created on 20 June 2016

A care provider has been fined £190,000 following the death of a disabled resident who broke his neck at a nursing home in West Yorkshire.

Watchdog the Care Quality Commission prosecuted Leeds-based St Anne’s Community Services after 62-year-old Kevin McNally died at the home in Smithies Moor Lane, Birstall, in April last year.

Bradford Magistrates’ Court was told that Mr McNally, who had Down’s syndrome, epilepsy, dementia and a severe learning disability, had lived in the nursing home since 2012.

In April 2015 two care workers had gone to Mr McNally’s bedroom to help him take a shower using a shower commode chair. The shower chair fell forwards while he was loosely strapped in. Staff attempted to resuscitate him, but he was pronounced dead in hospital.

Jenny Ashworth, prosecuting, told the court that the provider had failed to adequately control the risk of serious injury and the accident was avoidable.

This accident was entirely avoidable. The risk of people sustaining serious injuries because safety or posture belts are not used properly has been well known for some time. Yet St Anne’s Community Services failed in its duty to ensure that care and treatment was provided in a safe way, and as a result Kevin McNally died. It is a tragedy which need not have happened.

“When serious incidents occur, we now have additional powers to hold providers to account in the courts. In future if we find that a care provider has put people in its care at risk of harm, we will always consider using those powers to the full to prosecute those who are responsible.”    – Debbie Westhead, deputy chief inspector of adult social care

Created on 19 February 2016

In a surprise announcement Glasgow City Council is to close Cordia, the Arms-Length External Organisation (ALEO) which until now has been the preferred provider of social care in the city. Cordia employees will transfer  to the Council, bringing its social care function back in-house.

As part of the new approach, the Council will overhaul the way that it purchases community-based care services from other providers, including the third sector, in line with their Transformation Strategy, a far reaching reform programme that aims to modernise working practices and deliver required savings of £133m over the next two years.  See this article for more details

Proposals include testing a new purchasing model, which will see a move away from purchasing care services by the hour.  It is unclear at this stage what the new model will look like, however, a further report will be submitted to committee in March 2016 outlining plans, which will include working with a small number of organisations in the coming year to test out new approaches..  


Created on 08 February 2016

The essence of Self Directed Support is meant to be having the freedom to spend an Individual Budget on the support and services that can truly meet your need.  In the early days, videos were produced of people spending their money on holidays abroad or on personal development courses or opportunities.  The argument was if you gave people the freedom to make their own choice, they would be better choices and in many cases would be cheaper.  For example, instead of paying a support worker to take you to a football game as well as buying a tickt, a friend, family member or volunteer could be induced to do this for just the price of the ticket

Over the last few years as SDS has been introduced in Scotland, that has rarely been the case.  Instead the use of Individual Budgets has been constrained by local authorities who have claimed that their duty to ensure the “public pound” is properly spent overrules thing else.  Budgets can only be spent on areas approved by councils.  85 page contracts have been drawn up to support new “freedoms” which set limits on anything creative.

Now Glasgow City Council is proposing to give “providers” the freedom to do it differently. Read the proposal here  No longer will providers have to provide a fixed number of hours for an Individual Budget instead as long as the needs of the individual are met, then the budget can be used to increase the wages given to staff so they can rise in line with the National Minimum Wage.

This proposal will be introduced in a pilot scheme for a range of adults in community care groups.  But for people with learning disabilities it will make life much harder.  Glasgow has made a range of reductions in support for peopel with learning disabilities.  They started with a cut in people with learning disabilities budgets of an average 20% with the introduction of personalisation, followed by a 5 year freeze in the value of RAS support packages.  Then a they shut most of the city’s day services.   Now they now propose to make people with learning disabilities pay for the Tory’s National Minimum Wage by cutting their support packages even further while pocketing further savings in the meantime.

Its not completely clear in the paper but it seems to suggest that the new National Minimum Wage will cost  £21 million  and that this amount should be diverted from social care users support packages into paying the new wage level.  There is then an indication at the , while there would be a further 5% reduction in total spend in support packages to be retained by the council.  However a third set of savings may be generated  “significant” reductions in council “administration and processes”

The Learning Disability Alliance Scotland views this proposal with some concern.  Support packages for social care users in Glasgow and in particular people with learning disabilities have been severely reduced over the last 6 years.   This proposal takes the good idea of further social integration into the community but ties it to real pressures on social care.  Providers are likely to have little choice but to go along with it.   In the report it does not mention that they asked service users what they think of this process.   Surely SDS is about the service user’s choice and decision making.  This appears to be completely absent from the proposal.  We are really disappointed that Glasgow City Council are not turning their focus on the UK government who had introduced this policy of the National Minimum Wage but failed to fund it.


Created on 26 October 2015

Earlier this year, Edinburgh Council announced they were going to cut £15 million from the social work budget including nearly £3 million for support packages for people with learning disabilities and other support needs.  The Self Directed Support system which had been running for just over 12 months was to be overhauled, budgets were to be cut by 20% and a streamlined review process was to find ways to cut back support packages, one by one.  New teams of social workers charged with leading the reviews were organised.      It was to be a new approach.   And unsurprisingly first reports were worrying with  one of the new social workers putting it, “After all, do you know how much it costs to keep people with learning disabilities.”

Fortunately wiser heads have prevailed.  Long standing members of the council have been able to step in and counsel for a more measured approach to reviews.   People who  know the individuals well are now leading the reviews.  Many of the early reviews which proposed big cuts in services have not been progressed.  The Finance and Resources Committee acknowledges that it is likely that the savings target will not be met.  Many families and people with learning disabilities have breathed a big sigh of relief.

But its not over yet and the proposals to cut are likely to be revisited again. There are also a number of other efforts under way which will affect people with learning disabilities adversely.

A new assisted transport policy means that people with high rate DLA mobility are now expected to make their own way to support services (transport will not be supplied).

Day services will be reviewed throughout Edinburgh with the aim of closing a number of local authority run centres and the remainder  now specialising in supporting those with complex needs.

A maximum budget of £26,070 is set for those with the most complex needs – a lot less for many others.

Changes in the assessment process will limit help to only those carers who provide “substantial support on a regular basis.”

It is hard to see how we will ever see a “Fairer Scotland” when this scale of local authority attacks on the vital social care that people with learning disabilities need is under way.


10 ways local authorities are planning to make savings in adult social care

Created on 9 April 2014

Community Care Magazine have suggested that there are 10 ways local authorities are planning to make savings in adult social care over the next financial year.

They checked local council plans all over England and found evidence for each.  Read the original article here.   We think there might be similar things going on in Scotland.  Why don’t you email us with your examples.

  1. Reducing care and cutting personal budgets
  2. Delegating budget management to frontline staff
  3. Increasing charges for social care
  4. Cutting the hours of care people receive
  5. Reablement
  6. Replacing home visits with telecare
  7. Changes to the assessment process such as reviews over the phone
  8. Squeezing providers  by renegotiating contracts
  9. Cutting back on mental health support
  10. Reducing ‘double-up’ homecare by use of new technology


Care cuts ‘are threat to parents of disabled children’

Created on 16 September 2013

Stressed parents are finding their relationships breaking down as a result of councils’ cuts to care for disabled children, according to a new report. Services provided by local authorities and health boards have declined significantly in the last two years putting increased pressure on families with disabled children The report, commissioned by Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, warns that families are affected by direct cuts in public funding and a reduction in help provided by charities which themselves are seeing budgets slashed.

The result is that increasing numbers of parents are stressed and isolated, according to the report, written by Strathclyde University’s professor of disability studies, Kirsten Stalker.

Prof Stalker surveyed parents, disabled young people, councils, and charities providing services to families. The report says: “Service providers fear that cuts in public funding … coupled with recent changes to welfare benefits will increase the stress and isolation experienced by families and disabled children and the consequent risk of marital and family breakdown.

The report also reveals widespread  mistrust of policies such as direct payments and self·directed support which give families a budget to commission care. Charities working with disabled children and many of the families of those children told researchers they saw these policies mainly as a money-saving exercise.

They said cuts in funding from councils and health boards meant they were increasingly limited in what they could offer. Some 87% of charities working to support children with disabilities had suffered a cut in funding or tighter allocation procedures imposed by public funders. The study also finds that 47% said they couldn’t offer new families seeking a service the same support as two years ago, while 45Vo said they had reduced support to all families.

Parents in 10 focus groups held across Scotland said they had seen withdrawals of service or reductions in support from council social work and education departments, colleges, charities and health services.

Launching the report,  It Always Comes Down To Money, Children’s Commissioner Tam Baillie warned that children’s rights are being eroded.

He said: “There is evidence of cuts in local authority budgets leading to reductions in services alongside tighter eligibility criteria, support being removed without review or reassessment, and a lack of consultation. The changes have resulted in stress, disappointment and frustration for disabled children, young people and their families.

“There is a real danger that children and young people’s entitlements under international conventions and UK and Scots law are being- and will continue to be eroded, alongside a shift away from preventative work, to crisis intervention.”

Download the report by clicking here