The plan to halve the pay of some service users and carers whose expertise informs adult social care inspections has been halted temporarily.
Earlier this month it emerged that Remploy, the company that will take over delivery of the Care Quality Commission’s Experts by Experience programme in the north and south of England from 1 February, intended to reduce hourly pay for experts from £17 to £8.25 per hour (or £9.40 in London).
But now the inspectorate has agreed to give more money to Remploy so that existing experts are paid £15 per hour for the first six months of its contract. This brings the rate into line with what Choice Support, the charity that has the contract for the Midlands, intends to pay experts.
The Remploy deal does not appear to apply to new experts and talks between the CQC and Remploy about what happens to pay after the first six months are ongoing.
Chris Day, director of engagement at the CQC, said: “The Experts by Experience programme is of enormous value to the CQC and will continue to be critical to the success of our work. We have listened to the concerns that some experts by experience have raised with us about the changes to their contracts – and although we do not set pay rates, we have tried to address these concerns and to ensure as much protection for existing experts as possible.”
One expert told Community Care that while the £15 rate was welcome, experts by experience remained in the dark about other changes such as which local groups would be sub-contracted as ‘hosts’ by Remploy to provide service users and carers for inspections.
“We’re here now on Friday, Remploy’s contract is due to start next week,” said the expert, who wished to remain anonymous. “This is technically my last day but my host company hasn’t had any information. I find it extremely appalling that there has been no admission of ‘sorry, we’ve made a bit of a mess here’ from the CQC. This statement from Remploy is better than a poke in the eye but the continuity is falling apart.”
The expert said that some service users and carers had decided not to continue as a result of the pay row while others were adopting a “wait-and-see” approach before deciding whether to carry on with their CQC inspection work.
In addition some are objecting to working with Remploy in principle because it is majority owned by Maximus, the US company that handles work capability assessments of disabled people for the Department for Work and Pensions.
“I’m very, very sad it’s come to this because for a lot of people doing this is not about the money – it’s about what impact you can have on care services,” the expert added.
Remploy has previously said that the rates of pay had been decided following discussions with the user-led organisations it would be sub-contracting with.
A spokesperson for the company said last week: “User-led organisations will deliver the majority of the contract, supported by Remploy. Service users are at the heart of the programme and will be involved continuously in the development and improvement of the programme.”