Hundreds of care workers in Southport and across the Borough of Sefton remain penalised by the Council, it was exposed tonight in the Council chamber of Bootle.
Responding to a question from Lib Dem councillor Tony Dawson, Labour Cabinet Member Paul Cummins admitted that hundreds of care workers serving Direct Payments clients were still being paid less than care workers employed by big agencies. A commitment given months ago to speed up the review of the situation of individual clients receiving care paid through Direct Payments was less than half way through. And the Cabinet Member did not have a clue whether any of these care workers had yet received increases in pay or any back payments to compensate for years of being deliberately underpaid. The underpayment has been continuing for years.
Carers and small care agencies locally are taking the Council to the Local Government Ombudsman for failing to honour cast iron commitments to pay them the same rate for their care staff as is paid to Delta and Mears care staff in different parts of Southport. For years, the payments made across the board were frozen as part of the Council’s cost cutting measures. But two years ago, Sefton Council started paying Delta and Mears staff more money than was required in their original contracts. But they refused to pay any increase at all to other care workers doing identical care in the same flats and sheltered housing complexes as those people receiving care from the two big contractors.
An angry Councillor Dawson asked the Cabinet Member tonight to explain who, and under what authority, had decided to pay Direct Payments clients less money for their care than other people receiving care in Southport and the rest of the Borough. Councillor Cummings refused to answer the question, choosing instead to talk of a proposed new payment policy to be considered by the Sefton Cabinet next week. Cllr Dawson pointed out that Cllr Cummings was deliberately confusing the future with the past and not answering the question.
“It is sickening,” says Councillor Dawson, ” that the Council is discriminating against poor vulnerable people and their carers in order to subsidise big firms.”
“But they will not get away with it. I shall simply demand that the Council provides me with the truth which they are keeping secret.”
This is the second time that Paul Cummings has been in the dock this year in Southport. It is only months since he tried to close down the Brookdale Day Centre in Ainsdale without proper consideration of the facts. A concerted campaign by local people, backed by John Pugh MP and the local Lib Dems led by Southport Lib Dem Chair Lynne Thompson halted the closure in its tracks.
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