Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Adult Care on Zero Hours Contracts?

ROCHDALE's director of adult care, Sheila Downey, claims that a 'stand alone' body to run adult care would provide a more competitive service. Put simply that means a cheaper service at a 'competitive price', and that this could be done more easily than if it remained within the council. In a letter in last Saturday's Rochdale Observer Les May challenged this analysis writing: 'The only reason an 'in house' service would cost more is that the council would be constrained from employing people on the significantly worse terms and conditions of employment that would be open to other care providers.' But Sheila Downey is calling for 'a not-for profit community interest company'.

Surely that would be alright?

Mr. May is not impressed writing: 'Calling something a "community interest company" is not in itself a safeguard against exploitation of its employees.' Les May warns: 'Establishing such a body does not absolve any Labour councillor of the moral responsibility to ensure that this does not happen.'

Then there is the question of who would accountable and who would be responsible? The original article in the Rochdale Observer told us: 'Initially the council had suggested asking Link4Life, the council's sport and leisure contractor, to run adult care services, but these plans were dropped.'
Indeed they were!

What the Observer doesn't tell us is that shortly after Link4Life was put forward as a candidate for running Rochdale's adult care, the Link4Life bosses became entangled in a scandal over the use, or perhaps we should say misuse, of credit cards, and the idea bit the dust. Similarly, in Tameside, a smoldering scandal is building up about the Labour Council there awarding contracts for school meals to a company accused of the blacklisting building workers.

All this arms-length accountability troubles Mr. Les May who writes: 'At least theoretically [now] the actions of the council's adult care services can be questioned by council tax payers, councillors and local MPs, though in practice it can be difficult to do so', because 'appeals to "data protection" are commonly used to obstruct attempts to hold public bodies to account', and he asks: 'Will we also be faced with appeals to "commercial sensitivity" when we try to hold any stand alone body to account?'

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