"It was as if we had been completely forgotten": Chapter Care chief critiques Budget
Jeff Wilton-Love is the company director at Chapter Care, a family-run service providing domiciliary care and support to users throughout Devon. Speaking to The Parliamentary Review, he discusses his concerns for the industry in the wake of new chancellor Rishi Sunak's Budget and the growing pressure on care providers.
Going back to when newly appointed chancellor Sunak first presented the Budget, a concerned Wilton-Love began by lifting the lid on his views that it left social care very much on the periphery.
He said: "The sector is uncertain. There was nothing for social care in the Budget.
"There was no relief, nor reward. In fact, it was as if we had been completely forgotten."
Wilton-Love went on to discuss how the annual hourly rate inflation for 2020 from the local authority in the Devon area is below the National Living Wage [NLW] increment, which puts more pressure on local providers such as Chapter.
Wilton-Love explained: "Here in Devon at least, this year's annual hourly rate inflation from local authority is below the NLW increment and whereas we have worked extraordinarily hard to keep our employees above NLW and have increments for time served and qualifications, it seems as if we now have to flatten everything out and all staff will be earning the National Living Wage or similar.
"The issue with this", Wilton-Love continued, "is that our longest serving and most qualified staff are facing the prospect of being on the same wage as a first job."
In light of the amount of work such staff are expected to do in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Wilton-Love feels that this cannot be deemed acceptable.
He said: "We now have all these staff, deemed only to be worth the National Living Wage. These are the people who will be out on the front-line fighting coronavirus, ensuring the most vulnerable won't die.
"They will be working ridiculous shifts for the foreseeable future, while childcare, illness, self-isolation and a wealth of other problems begin to emerge.
"Furthermore, we are dealing with ever increasing overheads as our admin costs are increasing, in order to deal with the issues we have, and there is no help for that. We providers must shoulder this responsibility."
Then turning his attention to central government and the lack of provision for social care, Wilton-Love said: "There is nothing from central government and until recently, nothing from local authorities. Yet, the Budget allocated an extra £2.9 billion to local authority, which health secretary Matt Hancock said should have been partially diverted into social care, this was on an episode of Question Time.
"My question, therefore, is where is that money? I asked the local authority in Devon and fortunately they have now confirmed that they intend to pay planned time, so hopefully we see some of this investment reaching the front-line of social care soon."
Nevertheless, Wilton-Love feels that more attention must be given to the sector, or risk the future of social care being less than promising.
He said: "I think, looking at everything, things do still seem a bit bleak at the moment. Whilst social care is repeatedly overlooked and forgotten about, we are now the people out on the front-line, saving lives during this pandemic.
"I think it is fair to say that something is not right. Local authority willing to pay planned time is a breakthrough, but it can't end at that".