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Saturday, 30 August 2014

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Thirty per cent wage cuts ‘will force workers to quit’ Cumbria Council warned

SKILLED care workers in Cumbria could be forced out of the profession if wages are cut in April, Cumbria County Council bosses have been warned.

Staff at Creative Support – which provides care for adults with autism on behalf of the authority – claim they are facing a 30 per cent drop in salary from the start of the new financial year.

But the county council says the row is between the firm and its workers – and it cannot intervene.

A spokesman for the authority explained the proposed hourly rate was significantly higher than the living wage.

He said: “As part of the tender award, Creative Support agreed to review the overall cost of the services and to reduce these over time to bring them in line with the cost of other similar services including those they provide elsewhere in Cumbria.

“As a local authority facing significant reductions in government funding, the county council has to ensure that the services it commissions are affordable and do not undermine the sustainability of other care services which also rely on council funding.”

Creative Support, a national firm, won contracts for the care of adults with complex behavioural needs from the county council in 2008 and 2012.

This includes staffing the Ulverston Autism Service facility, in the town’s Victoria Road, which houses six adults.

But a number of specialist NHS carers who transferred into Creative Support when it secured the tenders are now set to have their wages cut by a third.

Experienced carer Andrew Galvin told the county council’s cabinet committee last week that the situation would force the most skilled workers out of the profession.

He said: “Victoria Road in Ulverston has a very high staff turnover because of these lower rates of pay.

“This is a false economy to cut it this quickly.

“Everything is built on consistent relationships with the same staff.

“Losing this would be like replacing someone’s dad and then saying ‘nevermind, he’s learned how to cook tea so you won’t notice the difference.’”

Creative Support claims the forthcoming wage cut has been directed by the county authority.

A spokesman pledged no posts were being made redundant and the level of service provided was not being downgraded.

He said: “Cumbria County Council requires all providers to provide value for money and we are working to review our staff terms and conditions following the transfer of NHS staff to Creative Support in 2008 and 2012.

“We entered into a period of consultation with our staff with regards to changing these in order that we can continue to provide the services at the funding rate set by the council.”

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