Care Forum Wales chief executive hits out at online care bid auctions

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

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

The controversial practice was exposed in a hard-hitting investigation by the BBC current affairs programme Panorama.

Mr Kreft, chief executive of Care Forum Wales, was horrified by a number of the revelations contained 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 in which 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 going to the lowest bidder.

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

According to Mr Kreft, proprietor of the award-winning care organisation Pendine Park, online auctions lead to lower wages for staff and compromises the standards of care.

Mr Kreft said: “Anyone who watched the recent Panorama programme, Britain’s Homecare Scandal, will have been appalled by much of what they uncovered.

“The jaw-dropping reverse auction arrangement set by one of the Scottish local authorities featured in the programme is quite simply immoral. It results in human beings being traded like commodities at an auction.”