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Flexibility, My Arse

November 12, 2012

Reasons why I don’t like “flexible” direct payments and being an employer. Part 76.

This is going to sound a terribly unempathic post. My excuse is that it’s not about the person who has triggered off the problem but the system that forces the situation on me.

Our main direct payment worker has gone long-term sick; he currently works 30.5 hours each week. Because he is an employee, he is entitled to sick pay. Having been self-employed since 1999, I have forgotten what it’s like to have an automatic entitlement to sick pay – I’ve got used to the fact that if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. But as an employee, sick pay is part of the contract drawn up by the council, so I have to honour that.

The council’s view is that I should budget out of the hourly rate to cover sick pay. But surely that doesn’t apply if someone is long term sick. Out of an hourly rate of £10.50, I would have to pay less than the minimum wage to cover the sick pay plus a cover worker. The alternative is that I take time off work to cover the absent shifts but as I said above, I wouldn’t have any income and I can’t imagine qualifying for any benefit under those circumstances – I’m not sick. I can’t sign on as I’m fit for work and not unemployed. ATOS would have a field day with a claim like that.

For a long time, I’ve wanted to transfer the whole support package over to the care agency that provides the rest of Steven’s support. The council won’t agree to that, purely on financial grounds. As I said, the direct payment hourly rate is £10.50 per hour; the agency rate is £16.85 per hour. It would cost the council nearly 50% more and they’ll never go for that. And neither will the support staff. Out of the £10.50 I receive from the LA, I can pay them £9 per hour (which still covers holiday pay and a small amount of sick pay). Although the agency receives £16.85 from the council, their pay their employees, on average, £7.50 per hour. They’re not interested in negotiating that figure up; it would bite into their 100% profit margin. And the direct payment workers are hardly likely to be keen to transfer their hours the agency and earn £1.50 per hour less.

I’m meant to be going to a mate’s wedding in two week’s time. As it is in Kent, it will mean at least one, probably two nights away. I’m really looking forward to it because another good friend lives nearby, so I was planning to kill two birds with one stone and spend some time with my two closest friends. I have been saving up my earnings as it will mean losing two days pay. I have also saved up some support hours to cover the extra support that will be needed at home whilst I’m away. Now I will have to cancel as there is no way I can afford to pay someone their week’s sick pay; cover for the sick person’s normal shifts and cover for the extra two shifts I would need to cover my absence. My mate, the bridegroom , and I have a running joke about our “bitterness” levels. I can well and truly trump him with this one!

Caring is fucking hard. Normal day-to-day stuff takes up an enormous amount of energy. I’m not interested in running a staff; I don’t have the time or the energy for that. Has the nature of being a carer become so complicated and involved now that opting out of being an employer, would actually mean forgoing a care package. Carers have enough on their plate – we don’t want to have the hassle of being employers as well.

 

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From → Social Care

One Comment
  1. Yasmin permalink

    Mark,

    You have the right to have the care package directed to an agency.

    The battle will never be over until we have positive people power.

    Again this freedom of choice will put you back into challenging mode.

    Then your be labeled a nuisance. All because you care…..

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