In response to Unison’s Freedom of Information Act enquiry to councils on the commissioning of home care services and home care workers’ travel time.

United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) Policy Director Colin Angel was also interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on 29th October: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04md4nc

Commenting on an enquiry made under the Freedom of Information Act to local councils in England by Unison on the commissioning of home care services,  UKHCA notes the following:

Payment of at least the National Minimum Wage for all working time, including applicable travel time, is the law.

UKHCA is pleased to see that Unison has clearly identified the commissioning and procurement practices of local councils and the underfunding of contracts as a major issue for the home care sector.

Fewer than 2% of employers receive a separate payment from councils to cover care workers’ travel time or travel costs, which have to be met from the hourly rate they receive for delivering care.

Unison has echoed previous work undertaken by UKHCA to make councils more responsible for the prices it pays for home care. UKHCA’s Minimum Price for Home care suggests that this should be at least £15.74/hour, if providers are paid solely for the time workers spend delivering care.

Payment of at least the Minimum Wage is less an issue about whether workers receive a separate travel time payment, as suggested by Unison, but whether councils pay enough for employers to meet all their legal obligations, including workers’ pay.

Regrettably some of Unison’s proposals, if adopted, would add unnecessary cost to already constrained public sector budgets, which would be better invested in front-line services. Local authorities are neither sufficiently skilled nor resourced to police the Minimum Wage, which is the responsibility of HMRC. It would be more effective for councils to ensure they cover providers’ actual costs of delivering care through proper financial modelling to ensure high quality services and pay workers at or above Minimum Wage for working time.

UKHCA already provides a Minimum Wage Tool kit for home care providers to assist them interpret the National Minimum Wage regulations correctly, given the complex nature of home care working patterns. We are pleased to see that statutory guidance to support the Care Act 2014, issued by Government to councils in England, clarifies the obligations of councils on their responsibilities.

You can find more information and many useful downloads to support these findings on the UKHCA website here.