A CARE provider has been condemned by Lancashire MPs and Councillors for "shameful" cuts to carers' working conditions.

Alternative Futures Group, which is commissioned to provide carers for elderly and vulnerable people by several local authorities including Lancashire County Council, says the changes are being made as part of a "cost reduction programme" dubbed "a Chance for Change."

However an open letter to the AFG's CEO Ian Pritchard, signed by Blackburn MP Kate Hollern and County Councillor Azhar Ali OBE amongst others, says politicians have noted with "grave concern" that this could impact carers' pay.

The letter reads: "We can only infer that this means cuts to pay and terms and conditions of frontline social care staff, which is unacceptable."

A total of twenty one MPs and sixty-three councillors signed the letter condemning the proposals.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Blackburn MP Kate Hollern has signed the letter 

Unison regional organiser Paddy Cleary said: "AFG’s treatment of its care workers is nothing short of shameful.

"It is clear that “A Chance for Change” is nothing more than a chance to cut costs with the burden being felt by front-line workers.

"All contractual terms are set to be reviewed, leaving open the prospect of AFG cutting their occupational sick pay scheme in the midst of a pandemic.

This would pose a public health risk, putting both care workers and service users at increased risk, as care workers are forced to choose between health and hardship.

"In a deft public relations move, AFG has attempted to distract from its cost reduction programme with a vague expression of an ambition to pay the Foundation Living Wage, but it is not difficult to see through this red herring."

He added: "It is clear to see that AFG’s proposal is a thinly veiled attempt to further slash the terms and conditions of an already undervalued workforce, they must urgently reconsider."

Lancashire Telegraph:

County Councillor Azhar Ali is also amongst the signatories

The care provider has confirmed that it is consulting with employees over changes to terms and conditions and that elections to an Elected Employee Council is taking place.

An AFG spokesperson said: "We would love to pay our staff a real living wage but to do this means we need to review all our current enhanced terms and conditions and discuss with our team how we move forward towards this aim.

"We stand with our staff to lobby local authorities and central government to tackle the historical underfunding of this sector so that the real living wage becomes the norm within our industry and make our business sustainable for the future, which as a charity we have a legal obligation.

"We have written to the Government calling on them to do a thorough and meaningful review of the social care workforce and put more money into the system so that we can pay our hardworking colleagues better.

"It is disappointing that there is still no plan for social care reform. 

"While employee council elections are still underway, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further."