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Councillors condemn care staff double whammy

July 9, 2020 4:49 PM

Cllr Tim CaswellBedford Borough Liberal Democrat Councillors have expressed dismay that care home and home care workers are facing a hostile environment from the government following the Prime Minister's remarks that care homes did not follow national guidelines at the outset of the coronavirus outbreak.

At a meeting of the Adult Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee councillors unanimously decided to thank care workers at all levels after senior officials confirmed that no care home in Bedford Borough had failed to follow the guidelines.

Bedford Borough Liberal Democrat Adult Services Spokesperson, Councillor Tim Caswell said: "The Prime Minister's casual insult to the heroes who work on the front line, often for little reward, comes with a double whammy for care staff.'

"The regular retesting of care workers and residents in some care homes through the government's portal which starts on Monday 13th July is only part of what needs to be done and it comes very late in the day. Regular tests for carers and residents in all other adult care homes and supported living will be rolled out later.

'There is, however, no provision currently planned for domiciliary carers (who visit residents in their own homes) or carers that individuals employ directly. In my view those groups of carers and cared for have a similar and urgent need."

"The recent Deep Dive report into high infection rates in Bedford Borough also mentioned that some care providers do not pay Statutory Sick Pay. For now, the government's Infection Control Plan for care homes allows staff who have tested positive to be paid while they are ill or isolating. This makes a lot of sense of course, but it is not a sustainable and the real solution is proper funding for the sector and the safety net of access to Statutory Sick Pay."

In what had been a further blow for care staff, earlier this week the government had stated that workers who have coronavirus tests paid for by their employer will be treated as receiving a 'benefit in kind' which would be treated as taxable. Following a backlash, the government U-turned on this position late on Tuesday night, announcing that workers would now not pay tax on tests by their employer.

Tim said: "This government has made so many U-turns they must be dizzy! If their instincts were more in tune with the day to day concerns of residents all the U-turns wouldn't happen."