I can’t stand being an employer. I’m not cut out for it. In all the jobs I’ve ever had I’ve never aspired to be a manager. But having a Personal Budget forces you into that role. You could argue that if you don’t want to be a manager then don’t accept a personal budget. But where I live, if you don’t accept a personal budget, you don’t get any care.
On Tuesday, one of the support workers phoned in sick. It was completely genuine and I felt deeply concerned about his health. Life goes on though, so I had to shelve my empathy and get on with the task of filling his shifts for the remainder of the week. That was the easy bit. Two of the guys stepped up to the plate and the week has gone very smoothly.
Yesterday I got on with doing the wages. A year ago, I gave the support workers a choice. They could either receive a lower hourly rate and have their sick/holiday pay covered or they could become self employed and receive a much higher hourly rate but lose their entitlement to sick and holiday pay. If they accepted the latter, I would no longer be liable for employer’s contributions, so their hourly rate would be pretty good. All five of the team decided to take up the self employed option.
There is no slack in the Personal Budget. It is forensically calculated by the LA and if they discover any money not spent when they do their monthly audit, they take it back. The PB holder cannot save for a rainy day or for the entirely plausible situation of a worker being absent and having to pay someone else to cover their shift. Steven’s needs don’t go away if a support worker wants time off.
We have a fantastic team of support workers. They are committed and they are loyal. In any 7 day period, there are 24 shifts that need to be covered. That’s 1248 every year. Last night I did a quick calculation and in the last year there have only been 41 occasions when a worker hasn’t been able to do their allocated shift. I think that’s pretty good going and a testament to their commitment to their work. It embarrasses me that I can’t help them out and pay them during their absence. But I can’t because I need to pay someone else to cover that work. I know that is the nature of self employment (I’m self employed myself) but it doesn’t sit easy with me.
In other Personal Budget news, the monthly budget wasn’t paid into the account on Monday. I spent two hours trying to find out why and getting the bank to not bounce the weekly wages due to lack of funds. Eventually the money went into the account yesterday. Twice. I thought they might be paying the January payment in advance because of the Christmas period, but no, it was an error. The LA emailed me their bank details and asked me to send the overpaid amount back.
I thought I would use the opportunity to suggest they have audited me monthly for four years now and perhaps it’s time to acknowledge that the public purse is safe with me. They could do what most other LAs do and reduce the auditing to half yearly. Or even annually.
Guess what the answer to that was?