People with learning disabilities will end up “on the streets” if the government fails to address charities’ backdated bills for sleep-in shifts, the chief executive of a leading charity has warned.
Following a change in guidance from HMRC earlier this year, care workers who “sleep-in” must be paid the minimum wage rather than a flat fee. Providers are required to make backdated payments to affected workers, a bill which the learning disability charity Mencap said would run to £400m
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Speaking at a fringe event at the Conservative conference in Manchester this week, Turning Point boss Lord Victor Adebowale said his organisation was “in no position to pay” workers for sleep-in shifts worked over the past six years.
Lord Adebowale, who is also a non-executive director at NHS England, said: “If we don’t sort that out in the next few months people are going to be on the street.”
He added: “I hope the government understands how serious it is. It will change our neighbourhoods if they don’t solve this.”
Speaking at the same event Warwickshire CC leader Izzie Seccombe (Con) said it would cost her council £0.75m to begin paying people for sleep-in shifts “before you have talked about six years of back pay”.
Cllr Seccombe, who is also chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said the LGA was appealing the HMRC decision.
“I think we have got four government departments who have failed to talk to each other about what this means because it’s going to cost the NHS and the DH [Department of Health] money as well as social care.”
The LGA has also been campaigning for extra funding to cover the cost of required changes in the way deprivation of liberty safeguards (DOLS) are implemented.
Cllr Seccombe added: “If we were worried about DOLs, that fades into insignificance compared to this.”