Less than 5% of councils are confident that their independent home care providers pay a living wage, according to an Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) survey published earlier this month.
The broad study into councils’ procurement of home care shows that around 20% of councils do not know whether the independent providers they use pay their workers the minimum wage.
While councils are not the legal regulators for compliance with the national minimum wage, ADASS says they should play a role in promoting “fair and legal employment practices through the contracts that they let”.
“To remedy this situation, councils and providers need to work together,” ADASS’s report said. “Councils need to advise HMRC when they identify providers failing to meet these requirements so they can take prompt and effective action to deal with the offending providers.”
Another concern is that only 5% of councils were confident that their providers paid staff for their travel time. Not being paid for travel time between clients is a common reason for social workers effectively earning less than the minimum wage.
The union Unison expressed “shock and dismay” at the findings.
Unison’s head of local government Heather Wakefield said: “UNISON has consistently highlighted how such widespread non-compliance with the national minimum wage hurts both homecare workers and the people they care for.
“It causes poverty for the worker and is a major reason why staff turnover in the sector is so high. This hurts continuity of care, which is of vital importance to care users.”