Vulnerable people could lose vital care, warn charities

Thousands of people with learning disabilities could lose vital care after Government ruled that sleep-in carers be paid the national minimum wage, causing dozens of leading charities, including Mencap, to face insolvency after HMRC demands a bill of around £400m in back payments.

Following two tribunal cases, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) altered guidance in October to state that organisations must now pay the national minimum wage for all hours, meaning that charities who provide overnight care will have to increase pay from the flat rate of £25-£35 for a sleep-in shift to £60.

Around 200 disability charities, including Mencap, will be affected and are said to face a bill of around £400m for six years of back payments after the new guidance was issued. Charities have warned that they cannot afford the huge sums demanded by HMRC and that people who need overnight care may lose this “vital” service as a result of the bills. Mencap alone support around 5,500 people and are to be “majorly impacted”, whilst for smaller care providers the financial impact might mean that some may lose this support all together.

“We all recognise that our social care colleagues do some outstanding work and are some of the lowest paid, but we cannot pay them if we do not have the money and we only receive money from government sources,” said Jan Tregelles, chief executive of Mencap. “178,000 of the most vulnerable people in our society need this help and may lose it,” she said.

It is thought that the bill will have a devastating impact on the quality of life for those with serious learning disabilities who may not have access to an overnight carer as a result of the new ruling. Tregelles said, “having someone stay overnight ‘at home’ makes the vital difference between ‘living a life’ and spending the rest of their life in a hospital setting.”

Mencap launches petition to protect sleep-in support

“178,000 PEOPLE IN OUR SOCIETY need help and may lose it. Government changes to the interpretation of the law on pay has created a £400 million liability for care providers that they cannot pay. The Government created the problem so only they can fix it.”

Sign the Mencap petition here

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