Dumfries and Galloway Council announced this week that it has invested £4 million to bring its all social care workers into the living wage bracket of £8.25 an hour.
The local authority now leads the way in Scotland in ensuring that home care service providers contracted to work for the council receive the same pay as its own employees.
A spokesperson for the council said: “ Since becoming accredited as a Living Wage Employer in 2015, our Council have pushed for this to be rolled out to other businesses across our region. Unfortunately, we have always been conscious that not all of the people who are employed by the Services we contract out were on a Living Wage. This was rectified on 1st October when the Living Wage of £8.25 started to be paid to all employees within our Social Work Home Care services, following an investment by us of £4m per year.
“This means that Dumfries and Galloway Council are ahead of other local authorities in Scotland in proactively tackling this issue, on a day when it was announced that nine out of ten councils in the UK are failing to pay realistic prices to support older and disabled people in their own home.
“We maintain a pattern of delivering high levels of intensive care at home compared to other local authorities, helping us to shift the balance of care away from care homes and maintaining comparatively low levels of delay in discharging people from hospital.
“As part of Living Wage week (31 October – 5 November) Council Leader, Ronnie Nicholson, and Councillor Colin Smyth, Chair of our Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee met with Margaret Paterson of Scottish Care, and two Care Workers, Bill and Michael from Stewartry Care.
“Margaret confirmed that the providers she represented regarded the action by our Council as ‘a most welcome and positive move’. She went on to say: ‘This is a very skilled workforce and the payment of the Living Wage helps people to recognise that fact.” Our Council’s robust contract monitoring will ensure that external providers, who are commissioned to provide the services, pay a minimum of the Living Wage.”
Council Leader, Ronnie Nicholson said: “This announcement ties into both Challenge Poverty Week and Living wage week, in addition to today’s announcement by the UK Home Care Association, and reinforces our belief that the Living wage is one of the best ways to alleviate poverty and hardship.
“Increasing pay to Living Wage levels is extremely important to this Service, as it will give Care Providers the ability to attract new staff and maintain their existing workforce. Hopefully it will attract more people in our region to consider Caring as a career.
“Despite the uncertainty surrounding Scottish Government funding and the value of the funding from them not being released till December, we have taken responsibility and gone ahead and implemented it anyway; we recognise that doing this is vital to the future of our Care providers and the vulnerable people they look after.”