Union Vows To Fight Bid To Privatise Home Helps

UNION bosses are set to fight plans to privatise the jobs of more than 70 Calderdale home helps. The move was agreed by councillors in March in a bid to save £200,000 a year.

The cost of employing each staff member will be cut by about £2.40 an hour without changing the level of care, says council leader Stephen Baines.

But the town hall union, Unison, says staff and users will lose out.

“Private agencies exist in an unstable market – they come and go, they merge and as a consequence offer uncertain employment to their workers.

“We are working on a strategy to resist the privatisation which will involve other sectors of the labour movement and the wider community,” said branch secretary Gary Firth.

Writing in the Unison newsletter, he said talks were continuing but, on past performance, there was nothing to suggest the changes will be for the better.

Bob Metcalfe, chairman of the council’s health and social care panel, said members expressed serious concerns about the outsourcing plan nearly a year ago and what was now being proposed was far wider in its scope and implications.

“I believe the scrutiny panel will want to examine this further,” said Coun Metcalfe (Lab, Ill-ingworth and Mixenden).

There are about 300 home care assistants in Calderdale employed by the council who look after the needs of about 1,400 elderly and vulnerable people.

Head of adult services Phil Shire said that rather than just assisting them with cleaning and shopping, they now provided more intensive care and training so that they could keep their independence.

As more private sector and not-for-profit organisations provide basic care it will significantly reduce the need for long term local authority support services, he said.

The council has stopped recruiting permanent home care workers and will be talking to users about the possible impact on them as the changes are introduced next year.

l A private home care company is being closely monitored by the council as a result of complaints from users, according to health and social care director Jonathan Phillips.

“”The provider has improved provision and located an administrative office in Calderdale which previously was not the case,” he told councillors.