David Ward – 2015 Parliamentary Question to the Department of Health

The below Parliamentary question was asked by David Ward on 2015-02-20.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps his Department has taken to ensure that local authorities commission adult social care services at an hourly rate which provides for staff to receive the national minimum wage and includes travel time between clients.

Norman Lamb

High quality, compassionate care for the most vulnerable in society can only be delivered by a well-trained, motivated and appropriately remunerated workforce. The Government recognises that pay can be a particular concern for those with the responsibility for delivering those services.

Care providers are legally obliged to pay their workers at least the national minimum wage – relevant time spent travelling between care appointments should be treated as working time for national minimum wage purposes in accordance with HM Revenue and Custom (HMRC) guidance. This is the least that care workers deserve and should expect.

Responsibility for enforcement of the national minimum wage rests with HMRC rather than local authorities. However, the Care Act places duties on local authorities to have regard to fostering an effective workforce able to deliver high quality services.

The Government has recently published statutory guidance to support the implementation of the Care Act that describes how local authorities must meet these new duties when commissioning, which directs that local authorities should have evidence that care providers they contract with are paying at least the national minimum wage, including factoring into those calculations any time spent travelling between care appointments and that those providers found to be recently in breach of the law, should be excluded from the contract tendering process.

The Government has also worked with the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and the Local Government Association to co-produce a set of commissioning standards that were launched in October 2014. These standards amplify the good practice set out in the statutory guidance in regards to fostering an effective workforce.