CAMPAIGNERS are calling for Lancashire County Council to reverse what they say are cuts to care workers' pay.

The UNISON North West led campaign says that the council's decision in 2019 to impose a flat pay rate on 'sleep rates', meaning pay covering overnight workers when they find themselves needing to sleep, rather than the national minimum wage amounts to a pay cut.

The move against this decision has been prompted in part by the work that carers have done during the pandemic, which has already required them to put in hours of unpaid work.

A UNISON North West spokesperson said: "We have worked on the frontline throughout the pandemic and risked our own lives to care for the community for low wages.

"We are being rewarded with a pay cut as the cost of living spirals.

"The decision is not cost effective in the long term and will worsen the conditions and quality of care for the community over time."

The carers and their representatives believe that this is scant reward for the work they have done and hope to secure restored pay rates for both carers directly employed by the council and those who have been outsourced.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Carers have been working particularly hard during the pandemic

The spokesperson said: "At Christmas, Geoff Driver OBE, Lancashire County Council Leader, sent a message thanking us for the care we provide and acknowledged that we already put in lots of unpaid extra work.

"Yet he had led the council to cut our pay and with this acknowledgement seems to expect that we will work for free because we care about supporting the most vulnerable members of society."

However, the council has argued that the decision to impose the flat rate was taken on the advice of national charity Mencap, who have argued that such a rate is easier to pay for organisations operating on tight budgets such as independent care homes.

County Councillor Graham Gooch, Lancashire County Council's cabinet member for adult services, said: "Care workers are doing a tremendous job supporting vulnerable people throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

"Sleep in payments are given to staff working in supported accommodation who are asleep, but may be woken to provide occasional support to people overnight. If they are woken up and have to perform duties, they get paid for that in addition to the flat rate sleep in payment.

"We worked with providers in response to the appeal by national charity Mencap to introduce a flat rate payment in 2019 and, to give them time to adjust to the change, agreed to its phased introduction until April 2020. This was all agreed well before the current coronavirus crisis.

"Our cabinet has also agreed increases to the rates it will pay care providers from April 2021 at its meeting earlier this month.

"These will allow care providers to raise staff wages and pension contributions, which typically increase in line with the National Living Wage and other factors each year."

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