Decisions to resolve the sleep in shifts crisis cannot be further delayed

Government has announced it will extend the suspension of minimum wage enforcement in the social care sector for a further month.

VODG remains seriously concerned about the continuing significant risks facing providers who offer essential sleep in services. Following the welcome announcement in July to pause HMRC enforcement VODG has supported the Government’s research with much needed provider insight into this area. However, VODG is very disappointed and frustrated with the lack of progress and commits to continue to work with Government to reach a solution in the weeks ahead.

VODG chair, Steve Scown said:

“The decision to pause is worrying as for each month that goes by providers are continuing to work with a potential unknown back pay bill with no clear indication about future funding arrangements.”

For years official guidance, variable HMRC inspection approaches and employment tribunal decisions have all been at odds. VODG, and sector partners, have put this issue on the agenda. The focus has been on identifying solutions that work for both employers and employees and do not compromise service capacity, quality or safety for people who rely on over night support.

Steve Scown goes on to say:

“We call on Government to step up the pace. We need a common sense pragmatic solution that enables colleagues to be paid their dues without employers being made bankrupt.”

This part of the sector that offers sleep in services is one month away from a tipping point crisis and reduced provision will further erode choice and control for people who use social care. This situation would undermine Government’s ambitions for truly personalised care for both children and adults. The future arrangements must work for all parts of the sector, and that includes individual employers, such as those who use personal budgets, so that they are not disadvantaged in any way.

VODG chief executive, Rhidian Hughes, said:

“The pause in enforcement coincides with the sector reaching a critical junction on future funding and service arrangements. Government must develop a robust strategy for social care and that includes a fair funding solution for sleep in cover in the future. There is a risk of good providers further exiting from the market because they will not compromise on delivering high quality services.”