Inverclyde company ‘can’t afford’ to pay living wage

Inverclyde company ‘can’t afford’ to pay living wage
Greenock Telegraph, by Eric Baxter


A company could be forced to pull out of providing care services for Inverclyde Council over the cost of the ‘living wage’.


Inverclyde Community Development Trust operates ‘Trust Care’, which has 10 employees.


Trust Care currently pays £6.80 an hour, but the living wage now stands at £8.25.


Community Development Trust chief executive, Jim Bristow, said it pays the living wage to its 80 other employees and is negotiating with the health and social care partnership, which combines council and NHS responsibilities for social care services, to pay the rate for Trust Care workers.


But Mr Bristow said: “I don’t know if we can afford it. If not, we might have to pull out of care services after delivering them for many years.”


Another care provider, Invercare, said it doesn’t do much work for the council, but its wages of £7.20 to £7.70 an hour are being reviewed.


A range of care services is available to people who need assistance with daily living tasks and activities to support them to live as independently as possible at home.


Inverclyde Council leader Stephen McCabe said he could not comment on individual companies due to commercial confidentiality.


But he said: “The position of the council in respect of contractors paying the living wage is quite clear.


“We encourage contractors to pay the living wage, but, under existing Scottish Government procurement guidance, we cannot insist on it. When evaluating tenders, a limited additional weighting is given to contractors who pay the living wage along with other employer related criteria, but this is unlikely to be the determining factor in who wins a particular tender. Some of our successful tenderers for social care contracts pay the living wage, and others do not.”


Cllr McCabe said that, at a national level, the council is working through the Conventionof Scottish Local Authorities to try to bring in the living wage across the social care sector, in partnership with providers and the Scottish Government. 
He added: “One way to ensure the living wage is paid in all public contracts is for the Scottish Parliament to pass appropriate legislation.


“There have been a number of attempts to progress this matter in the parliament by Labour MSPs, but the Scottish Government has ruled it out as they say that European legislation prohibits it.”