A local authority has been criticised for only paying staff in privately-run care homes to the minimum wage while paying carers in council-run homes nearly £2,500 a year more.
Care Forum Wales, which represents nearly 500 independent social care providers, says the decision by Flintshire County Council is a “kick in the teeth” to care workers.
According to Care Forum Wales chair Mario Kreft MBE, the carers had put their own lives on the line and heroically done their utmost to protect their residents from the deadly Coronavirus pandemic.
He said the response of care workers in saving lives during the coronavirus pandemic had highlighted their true value and they should be recognised by the authorities who commissioned publicly funded social care.
“This is an unforgiveable insult to all the heroic people who have been on the front line throughout the coronavirus. It’s nothing less than shocking,” he said.
“Instead of clapping for carers Flintshire Council they are kicking them in the teeth and condemning them to live on low wages which is an absolute scandal.
“They should be treated as national treasures for showing tremendous courage as well as skill and dedication in the face of this frightening disease during a global pandemic. They deserve so much better.”
‘Table of shame’
In Wales, pay rates for carers are effectively determined by local councils who set the level of fees care homes and domiciliary care companies receive.
Flintshire, along with many other authorities and health boards, use a formula which calculates how much they want to allocate towards all care home costs, including what staff are paid.
As a result, say Care Forum Wales, wage levels have been unfairly suppressed by the local authorities who have managed the budgets for 25 years.
Meanwhile, they said, care workers working in council-owned homes in Flintshire are paid considerably more, even if they have no experience or qualifications – at nearly £50 a week or nearly £2,500 a year more.
Mr Kreft said: “Twenty or so years ago Flintshire’s rates were among the highest in Wales but they have slid steadily down the league table of shame and are now in the relegation zone.
“It’s part of the increasing North/South divide in Wales with five of the bottom 10 payers being North Wales councils while the highest rates are to be found in South East Wales.
“When they were calculating the fees for the coming year, Flintshire split the staff up so that half the staff are paid the national living wage which is currently £8.72 an hour going up to £8.91 next, while the other half are on a slightly higher rate of £10.21.”