Monday, 3 February 2014

A brick and a kick in the nuts for the people who care for the disabled in Barnet

'A martial arts instructor once told me "you can know all the disciplines, all the forms but a half-brick at ten paces followed by a kick in the nuts tends to win most times" ' - This comment was left on my studio business facebook page yesterday.

I was reminded of an email I was sent about the current situation at Your Choice Barnet. To quote the email

Your Choice Barnet (YCB) Propose a10% Wage Cut For All! In a meeting today this is what the unions were told was the leading suggestion for YCB to remain financially viable. Unions were told that the restructuring and docking of enhancements for YCB staff had already provided YCB with approx£1million savings last year. Some staff have seen their pay reduce by around 20% al­ready.

However, in spite of being told last year that a cut to the costs of YCB of £1million was needed and has been achieved, unions are now to un­derstand that YCB must cut its costs by another£400K and this can be done by everyone taking a 10% wage cut.

So the first question I asked was whether the salary cuts applied to senior management. I was rather shocked to find that the answer is apparently "No it doesn't". No unllike some, I don't subscribe to a viewpoint where staff terms and conditions can never be cut, regardless of the economic situation. Sometimes a cut is the only way to keep a company afloat. I've run a business for coming up to 35 years. Sometimes I've taken nothing out of the business for months on end, when the circumstances warrant it. I've done second jobs and sometimes even third jobs. I've always tried to keep the effects of my decisions for the business (I am the boss, so I take responsibility) away from the staff. When pay has had to be affected, they know that I am suffering too. We are all in it together and so we work to see out the bad times. 

It seems that in Your Choice Barnet, the senior management take a different view. They have protected their terms and conditions. Who has taken the blame for the massive shortfall in funds? I can't find anything anywhere which says who made the cock up when the YCB business case was put together. All I know is that the people taking the brunt of the financial hardship are not the ones facing a cut.

These wage cuts are being enacted to fund a policy in Barnet where Council taxes are being cut by 1p. The leader of the Council stated on national TV that the cut is purely symbolic and he accepts the savings will not materially affect anyones standard of living. That is apart from the care workers helping the disabled of Barnet to try and achieve a decent quality of life and the people they look after, who will find that it is impossible to find decent people to provide the care they deserve on such poor wages. A parent of one of the people reliant on YCB Barnet for care emailed me with the following comment about the situation

"I do not for one second believe the people of Barnet would accept is is either justifiable or acceptable to agree to a 1 p per week tax cut, that will lead to perhaps a wage cut of up to £30 per week for people at the coalface of caring for the disabled,  already low paid workers who protect and care for the most vulnerable folks in our community. Which will undermine their sense of worth and commitment to their task, and in turn the quality of life of those they care for."

The quote at the start of this blog reminded me of what seems to be the election tactics of the Barnet Conservatives. They are not interested in learning the arguments, they know that the equivalent of a brick and a kick in the nuts is far more effective when dealing with your opponents at elections. That is exactly what this tax cut will feel like to the disabled of Barnet and those that care for them. When we talk about cuts in social care, there are always losers. The losers are always the most vulnerable, those with no voice and no one to speak up for them. That is why they are always the first to get mugged when the tap runs dry. 

1 comment:

Caroline Sarychkin said...

Cut the wages of the lowest paid, if not unionised they are the ones least able to complain.
Put more burden onto unpaid carers. Nobody will just stop caring for someone they love dearly because finances are even more squeezed.
Rely on goodwill, give pats on the back and praise other people for their kindness then cut the budget and pay yourself more.
Or am I being cynical.