Private ownership spells cuts to staff pay

Care workers in Yorkshire are being paid less and face cuts to their working conditions as a result of council homes being transferred into private ownership.

That was the key finding by academics at Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Bradford, who carried out research into pay and conditions in the care system for the Low Pay Commission.

The researchers spoke to 29 employers, managers, trade union representatives and adult social care workers at 15 Yorkshire care homes.

Study lead, Peter Prowse, professor in HR management and employment relations at Sheffield Hallam University, said that reductions in work conditions, decrease in pay, cuts to local authority commissioning, the funding of care home places and the National Living Wage are all having an effect on rates of pay in care homes.

it also found that those working in homes which had transferred from local authority to private ownership had seen a reduction in their pay after TUPE regulations ended (a year after transfer into private employement). 

Other problems included:

  • care workers paid the same as caterers and cleaners in the same homes, despite their qualifications
  • under-25s paid less than over-25s despite having the same qualifications and experience
  • carers not paid extra for working nights, weekends and bank holidays – with the overtime rate at some care homes less than the hourly rate

“A dual workforce operated in many homes with staff doing the same job paid at different rates. New recruits were being paid less than those who had transferred from the local authority,” said Professor Prowse.

The study found care home residents were more dependent and less mobile than five years ago, and care workers were reporting increased fatigue due to longer hours and caring for more frail patients.

The research has been presented to the Low Pay Commission and will form part of its evidence on pay in care homes.

The care home sector is estimated to be worth around £15.9 billion a year in the UK, with around 41,000 residents in care. Skills for Care has forecast that an increase of 40 per cent (650,000) staff will be needed by 2035 to keep up with the growing demands of an ageing population.

Analysis of national rates of pay has indicated most care workers are paid at or below the National Minimum Wage with an increasing trend towards zero-hours contracts in the sector.


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