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Bexley carers face a drop in wages and abolishment of their petrol allowance

PUBLISHED: 17:13 20 October 2010

Cedric Frederick

Cedric Frederick

Archant

A private care company used by the council to provide home help is proposing slashing its carers' wages and abolishing their petrol allowance.

Avante Partnership, which Bexley council commissioned to take over its home help service in March this year, is consulting with its 350 staff and trade unions about a range of proposals including reducing wages and abolishing carers’ petrol allowance.

But the cost-cutting exercise has left carers and service users outraged claiming they will be severely out of pocket as carers can make up to 20 visits a day.

A 90-year-old woman from Bexley who relies on Avante carers twice a day, said: “They were told they could put their fees up but they chose to cut their costs. They are reducing their hourly rate and could take away their petrol allowance. These carers can make 15 to 20 visits a day in their own cars. Quite a lot of elderly people are upset. I need help with dressing and getting my breakfast but some people need help throughout the day. It is very distressing. It would be ridiculous if they took away their petrol allowance.”

One female carer, who wished to remain anonymous told the Times: “They’re not paying our mileage anymore which is ridiculous.

“They’ve also reduced our pay by about one pound and we’ve contacted the unions to try and get them to do something for us.”

Chief Executive Avante Partnership Cedric Frederick, refused to disclose the proposals but added: “In Bexley, as in many other local authority areas, budgets are having to be reduced and so we are all striving to maintain that high quality with fewer resources. We’re responding to this situation by consulting openly with our staff and trade unions about some of the difficult choices this situation has created. Those choices have to include consideration of a range of things, like mileage allowances, as there is simply not the funding to do everything we would like to do.

“At this time, no changes have been made and we continue to listen to the views and suggestions of staff. At the end of the consultation process we will offer Avante employees a detailed proposal of new terms and conditions and our firm commitment is that this should maintain continued employment for all of our valued staff.

“The most important thing, which has come through very strongly from our staff throughout the process, is that the vulnerable and elderly people who use our services should continue to receive the best standards of care. We are committed to working with our staff and partners to ensure this is possible in the challenging financial situation.”

A spokesperson for Bexley council said: “The way that home care services are delivered is changing as clients take control of their own care, rather than the council having block contracts with providers such as Avante. The council has not managed or directly provided any home care services since 2000. In April 2010, Avante took over the services previously provided by Care Partners Trust.”

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