Care for many elderly and vulnerable people has been thrown into chaos. Only a few months after the Carillion crash, another giant of outsourcing was on the brink of financial collapse at the start of this week.
Bosses at Allied Healthcare are not making enough profits. It means an uncertain future for the 13,500 who rely on the firm’s home care services.
Allied has home care contracts with over 150 local authorities. They also provide out-of-hours services for the NHS, including 111 telephone services, GP-led medical centres and end of life care.
Allied applied for a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) on Monday, after admitting it didn’t have enough money to pay its bills.
The CVA is designed to restructure the firm’s debts, with bosses saying they don’t have any plans for redundancies or closures.
The CVA would give the company four weeks to agree a revised schedule of repayments.
Allied is Britain’s largest domiciliary care business and employs over 8,000 people. It boasts of providing over nine million hours of care a year.
Allied bosses say they can’t afford to pay workers what they are owed after a HMRC ruling in November 2017. This said workers on a “sleep-in”
shift should get paid the minimum wage for time spent at work.
Previous to this decision, workers would only get a flat rate for the shift.
And workers can claim for up to six years of backdated “sleep-in” pay.
The Unison, GMB and Unite unions, representing health care and social care workers, celebrated the changes to “sleep-in” pay as a victory. But a bigger campaign will be needed to fight the bosses’ excuses they can’t afford to pay workers’ wages.
Bosses have also blamed April’s rise in the minimum wage rate for their cash flow problems. They say an increase of just 33p to £7.83 an hour has left them with an extra £65,000 to pay each week.
But Allied’s owner, Aurelius, announced annual pre-tax group profits of nearly £550 million last month.
Allied is just the latest example of the scandal of outsourcing care to private companies. If companies decide they aren’t making enough money they can just pull care for some of the most vulnerable in society.
This was the case with Bield care homes, which closed 12 care homes in Scotland earlier this year, meaning 160 elderly people lost their homes. Bield bosses blamed cuts to social care budgets and “financial constraints” for the closures.
Instead of care packages being auctioned off to the cheapest care provider, all care should be brought back in house to local authorities and the NHS.
Public ownership will open the way to people getting the quality care they deserve instead of being left at the mercy of fat cat healthcare bosses.