On Wednesday 11th May 20011 Conservative Councillors on Croydon’s Scrutiny Committee refused to refer back the Croydon Council Cabinet’s decision to privatise delivery of care services to elderly residents at a number of Croydon Care Homes, including Fellowes Court, Morland Road , Addiscombe, and endorsed the privatising of this service to Care UK, a leading “for Profit” company in the private Care Home business. Councillor Sean Fitzsimons, Councillor for Addiscombe, was one of a number of Labour Councillors that pressed for the Conservative Cabinet Member to reconsider this decision.
At a packed meeting room at the Town Hall on Wednesday night, staff and carers put the the case for the service to remain in public hand and for staff to receive proper terms and conditions, including a living wage, as the best guarantee for vulnerable residents to receive the best care possible. Cllr Margaret Mead, the Cabinet Member responsible for Social Care refused to support Labour Councillors request that the new contract should at least pay staff as a minimum, the Boris Johnson supported “London Living Wage“, and refused to answer other questions on the grounds that they were too political or not relevant. She also left the meeting early and didn’t wait around to see her colleague, Cllr Ian Parker, Conservative Party Agent for Croydon, exclaim that having heard all the evidence that evening that he was happy to recommend that the committee endorse the Conservative Cabinet decision to outsource this service, happily ignoring the evidence from staff, carers and Labour Councillors. Even though his own colleagues winched at his “Mary Antoinette” like remarks, they all voted to support the closing down of any discussion on London Living Wage, and not refer the matter back to cabinet. This means that the decision to outsource this service to Care UK will now be implemented within the next 5 working days.
One of the results of this decisions is that Croydon is now employing a company that employs carers at rates just above the minimum wage. Cllr Bee, Labour Councillor for South Norwood presented evidence that Care UK in London is paying staff an hourly rate of between £6.80 and £7.20 per hour. Croydon Council currently pays staff around £11.20 per hour. As most of the cost of this service is made up of carer’s wage costs, the only way £2 million a year savings can be achieved is by the reduction in existing and new staff’s wages and pensions. It is clear over time that staff average wage per hour will decline from around £11 per hours and move towards £7.00 per hour. Officers and Cllr Mead refused to state what Care UK new terms and conditions will for staff when they take over, saying it will be subject to negotiation between individual staff and Care UK. Croydon taking the view that once the service is off Croydon’s books, it doesn’t care what its ex-staff get paid.
It is a sad indictment of the Croydon Conservative Party that they have set themselves in opposition to Boris Johnson’s campaign as London Mayor, which is all London employers should pay London staff as a minimum, the “London Living Wage” of £8.30 per hour. And it was only at the beginning of May 2011 that Boris Johnson announced a 45p increase in the London Living Wage to £8.30 pence an hour, a figure his Conservative Colleagues can’t guarantee to its own staff in Croydon.
On May 2nd 2011 Boris Johnson said “Decent hard working Londoners deserve proper reward for their labours, and I’m delighted that a growing number of organisations recognise that it suits them as well as their staff to pay the London Living Wage. It really is a win win for employers as paying a fair wage fosters a loyal and motivated workforce, while at the same time continues to help pull many Londoners out of poverty and boost the capital’s economy. Already many major employers have joined us in signing up and I urge others to look seriously at the benefits and join this important crusade.”
Sadly for the women of Croydon, who look after some of the most vulnerable elderly people in Croydon, his Conservative Colleagues in Croydon have decided to ignore campaign for a London Living Wage and instead condemn hard working staff to poverty wages.