Rethink Hope In Home Care Move

A decision over plans to privatise home care for adults in the city has been sent back to the councillors who originally agreed for it to go ahead. Hundreds of protesters packed the chamber at the Council House last night for a meeting to decide whether a decision by the ruling cabinet should be sent back, following concerns from care workers and two Labour councillors over the future of care in the city.

More than 150 care workers and trade union members gathered along Park Street before the scrutiny meeting to protest against the plans. Many were still in their distinctive green uniforms as they chanted “hands off our home care” and waved placards saying “We care now, who will care later?”

Inside the chamber emotions continued to run high as care workers and supporters cheered and jeered the various arguments. The city council’s home care workers say they are concerned for the future of their own jobs and for the treatment of the elderly and disabled people they look after.

Marie Dix, 38, of Bedminster Down, said: “My biggest concern is the way the elderly are being treated – there is no consideration for them. It is the uncertainty of it all. We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future.

“With private sector workers there’s no consistency, they won’t know who will be seeing them. We are getting quite desperate, which is why we are all standing together. We want to save our jobs and want to keep the stability for service users and for staff.”

Many of the council workers said they did not want to speak openly about the plans for fear of losing their jobs.

The move to “call in” the original decision was made by councillors Helen Holland (Whitchurch Park) and John Deasy( St George West), who said they did not believe the plan’s predicted savings were correct, that it would have a huge impact on already low-paid workers, and could affect quality of service.

After more than two hours of debate last night, the scrutiny committee voted to send the decision back to the ruling Lib Dem cabinet to look at again.

The cabinet councillor in charge of adult social services, John Keily (Lib Dem, Easton), stressed a final decision had not yet been made to privatise the care service, and there was still time for workers to join the consultation process and that the council would retain power over the workers who were employed for work under them.

Speaking after the decision Carol Lamont, 60, of Westbury-on-Trym, who has worked as a home carer for the past 10 years, said: “We are pleased that it is going back to cabinet, it’s better than it going any other way. We want to keep it in-house, not only for us but our service users as well.”