Boost for Walsall social care – claim

Council to scrap zero hours contracts for care staff.

It has been claimed that social care in Walsall is to change for the better after the town’s Labour-led council announced that companies who provide its home care service will be required to phase out exploitive zero hours contracts. The move will improve continuity of service and support to vulnerable people in the borough who rely on home visits to provided essential care, while giving job security to staff that look after and support them.

Councillor Diane Coughlan, portfolio holder for social care with Walsall Council, said as of May this year, companies bidding to supply home care will be required to phase out zero hours contracts for their staff. “When the Labour Party took control of the Council in August last year we said that one of our priorities was to improve the services and quality of life for users by improving the quality of life and job security of staff.

“At the moment we can have a single parent working five hours one week and 35 the next – there’s no continuity for the worker and more importantly, the service user they are supporting.

“Continuity of care is extremely important. If we have care workers building up a relationship with service users they are best placed to note and highlight any concerns and bring them to people’s attention. If home care agencies work in partnership with the council on this they will be able to offer more secure employment arrangements to their staff while improving the overall standard of care they give to service users.”

The new approach will allow for flexibility in the amount of hours a care worker has in their employment contract – some may prefer a low number of hours while others will be seeking full time employment conditions. Whatever the choice, they will know the minimum they will be earning each week.

Former member of the House of Commons’ Health Select Committee and Labour’s Candidate for Walsall South, Valerie Vaz, said the council’s policy dovetails with a Labour government’s plan to improve health and social care. “We need to incorporate services from home to hospital which drive out the culture of 15 minute care slots by introducing new year-of-care budgets.

“Labour’s plans will integrate health and social care into a single system of whole person care and we will improve standards by tackling workforce exploitation and improving training opportunities.”

At present, Walsall Council commissions around 20,000 hours of care each week from a range of home care agencies employing in excess of 1,500 care workers, most of whom live in the borough.