Northants care workers paid the lowest wage in the country - as pay talks continue for Corby home care staff

Talks continue between Unison and the unitary authority

Monday, 27th September 2021, 7:11 am
Updated Monday, 27th September 2021, 7:38 am
Prime Minister Boris Johnson clapping for carers during the Covid pandemic. Image: Getty

A solution to ensure a vital council service can keep running over Christmas must not be delayed, according to a union official.

In August, the North Northamptonshire Council home care service for vulnerable young adults was said to be on the verge of collapse, with 32 unfulfilled vacancies causing an untenable situation for dedicated staff.

And although Unison officials say that recent talks with NNC have been positive, they are now stressing the urgency of finding a solution before the busy Christmas period.

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It comes as figures analysed by our sister news site NationalWorld showed that council-employed carers across Northamptonshire are paid the lowest wages in the whole country.

The data, provided by charity Skills for Care, showed that 900 people employed in direct care - that is carers, senior carers, and support and outreach workers - by public sector organisations across Northants in 2019/20 were paid an average of just £9.62 an hour. That’s a full-time salary of £18,514, the lowest in the country.

The service, based in Corby, provides specialist support for young adults with disabilities, including those with mental health issues and brain injuries. In August it was revealed staff were working back-to-back shifts to ensure their clients’ care needs were met.

Unison regional organiser Claire Symes said recent talks with the council have been positive.

”We continue to be in positive dialogue with the council and we believe they are going to come up with some proposals,” she said.

”We know they have inherited a historic situation with low pay but our members cannot sustain the hours they are working now and the delay in making the changes may mean there will not be the staff to cover Christmas.

”The concern is that there will just not be enough people to cover the shifts.

”I think NNC want to resolve this but it’s just about whether this is going to be enough.”

She said that if there wasn’t enough cover at Christmas it could leave families with an unmanageable load over the already stressful festive period.

“And if people don’t have family or people who are physically able to do their care then the implications of that are massive.”

Claire said that inadequate government funding has contributed to the situation.

”The pay is the lowest it could possibly for these carers.

”The Government has the money to pay for social care if it wants to.”

Claire said that the imposition of compulsory vaccines on carers in Northamptonshire could also have a serious impact on staffing.

“At the moment the council is dealing with it quite well but there is a significant number of care workers who are not vaccinated. There is the suggestion that all home care workers might need to be vaccinated and that’s going to be a factor in staffing.”

North Northamptonshire Council have not responded to a request for comment.