Internet social care ‘scandal’ attacked

ONLINE auctions where contracts to care for vulnerable people are given to the lowest bidder should be banned so they can never happen in North Wales.

That’s the strong message from social care supremo Mario Kreft from Wrexham who believes that so-called reverse e-auctions are immoral.

The controversial practice was exposed in a hard hitting investigation by the BBC’s Panorama programme.

Mr Kreft, chief executive of Care Forum Wales, was horrified by revelations in the programme – not least the approach of local authorities in commissioning services.

He says it has rekindled the debate about the quality of domiciliary care and, in particular, the squeeze on funding to provide care for people in their own homes.

Reverse e-auctions are among the ways local authorities are using to drive down costs.

They force care providers to go online to bid the lowest hourly rate for care – with the contract often then going to the lowest bidder.

In the Scottish example shown by the Panorama programme, the bids went down by 5p at a time and the successful contractor offered an hourly rate of £9.95.

According to Mr Kreft, online auctions lead to lower wages for staff and compromise care standards.

Mr Kreft said: “Anyone who watched the recent Panorama programme will have been appalled by much of what they uncovered.

“The jaw dropping reverse auction arrangement set by one of the Scottish local authorities is immoral.

“It’s tantamount to saying that people have a cost but no value.”