New developments in the sector's sleep-in crisis have seen the Government extend the suspension of its National Minimum Wage (NMW) enforcement over back pay.
In July, the sector warned that social care was facing a sleep-in crisis over up to six years in wage back pay to workers who undertake sleep-ins. The Government then adopted a policy of suspending HM Revenue and Customs enforcement activity concerning payment of sleep-in shifts by social care providers, which was due to end on Monday 2nd October.
The Government has now announced a further one-month suspension of the minimum wage enforcement to minimise disruption to the sector and seek to ensure workers receive the wages they are owed.
During this temporary pause, the Government intends to develop a new enforcement scheme for the sector to encourage and support social care providers to identify back pay owed to their staff.
Reacting to the announcement, Professor Martin Green, Chief Executive of Care England said, 'We will continue to work with the Government during this extension period with the aim of seeing back pay liability fully-funded. However, we must see this issue resolved and are disappointed that the Government has not yet made a decision. We also need clarity on the future and how it will be funded. Providers and the people they care for need certainty.'
VODG Chair, Steve Scown said, 'The decision to pause is worrying as for each month that goes by providers are continuing to work with a potential unknown back pay bill with no clear indication about future funding arrangements. We call on Government to step up the pace. We need a common sense pragmatic solution that enables colleagues to be paid their dues without employers being made bankrupt.'
VODG noted that this part of the sector that offers sleep-in services is one month away from a tipping point crisis and reduced provision will further erode choice and control for people who use social care. This situation would undermine the Government’s ambitions for truly personalised care for both children and adults. The future arrangements must work for all parts of the sector, and that includes individual employers, such as those who use personal budgets, so that they are not disadvantaged in any way.
VODG Chief Executive, Rhidian Hughes, said, 'The pause in enforcement coincides with the sector reaching a critical junction on future funding and service arrangements. Government must develop a robust strategy for social care and that includes a fair funding solution for sleep-in cover in the future. There is a risk of good providers further exiting from the market because they will not compromise on delivering high-quality services.'