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Mears condemns council care contract as “danger to public”

Mears Group, one of the UK’s leading providers of homecare for elderly and vulnerable people, has condemned Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council for offering new rates that would lead to unworkable pay and conditions for care workers. As a consequence, Mears will not be bidding for this service.Mears Group views the new rate offered by the Council of £12.30-12.65 for homecare services as nothing short of encouragement to providers to breach the National Living Wage, and is 25% below the minimum recommended by the United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA), which represents the care industry.The change in minimum wages alone has seen an increase in cost to providers of 11%, with further changes taking this to 40% by 2020, and the new Apprenticeship Levy starts next year. For an affluent area like Solihull, care providers need to offer more than the minimum wage in order to deliver a quality service.Mears Group Executive Director, Alan Long, said: “Our top priority is to provide a quality service to people requiring care, with well-deserving staff receiving a decent wage. As such, the proposed rate represents extremely irresponsible – possibly illegal – action that we and others must challenge.“While we have sympathy for the financial pressures on local authorities, we have no sympathy for any council that is bullying providers into operating illegally.“We have spoken with Solihull Council on numerous occasions without satisfactory outcomes and they have ignored our latest appeal. As a result, we have raised our serious concerns to the Care Quality Commission, Local Government Association and Members of Parliament.“This is not an approach we have taken before but we consider this to be one of the worst examples of commissioning seen in the UK and a real danger to the public.”


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