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Care firms paying staff less than minimum wage

Council cuts mean that more care firms are employing staff at below the minimum wage, the Low Pay Commission has warned. 

The LGA said that more funding for social care was crucial. Government has pledged £4bn investment in 2016, but until then action must be taken to protect staff and services. 

The HMRC is investigating 120 care providers for practices to get around the low rates offered by councils, such as failing to include travel time in contracts. 

David Norgrove, chair of the commission, told the Guardian: “HMRC are working on this as a priority. People should not be bidding for contracts at rates which cannot pay the legislated national minimum wage. 

“We are hearing from companies who say that they cannot pay for travel time on the rates that local authorities are paying them. This is a growing problem which is a consequence of rates being dropped, sometimes dramatically, by councils.” 

Katie Hall, chair of the Local Government Association's community wellbeing board, said: “Until something is done to put council finance on a sustainable footing social care will remain significantly underfunded and services will suffer as a result. The bottom line is that the standard of care will not be substantially lifted until more money is put into the system.” 

Heather Wakefield, Unison's head of local government, said: “The Government have made such swingeing cuts to council grants that forces social care providers into cutting pay and conditions. Many employees are now being paid below the minimum wage. That's because they are not being paid for travel time, use their own cars without being paid reasonable mileage rates and have to pay for mobile phones and uniforms.” 

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