By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
A £1 hourly uplift approved to support Nottinghamshire care workers with their pay is not being spent by all care companies specifically on staff wages.
Nottinghamshire County Council’s cabinet member for social care has said the money is instead being used by some to fund other pay pressures.
The authority commissions care organisations to provide social care on its behalf.
This includes homecare agencies and individual care homes, with hourly rates funded through council budgets to offer community social care services.
In July, cabinet members approved a plan to give care providers an extra hourly £1 per care worker in a bid to boost staff pay.
The move, which came into effect in September and cost about £5m, was done to “honour and thank” carers and encourage more people into the sector.
But Councillor Matt Barney (Con) says the fee is not necessarily being handed directly to staff salaries despite being intended for this purpose.
He says some care organisations have used the £1 hourly fee as intended and even given their workforce a higher pay rise than initially requested.
But some are using it to fund mileage fees, fuel costs and expenditures associated with company cars and are not passing it on to salaries.
The authority is auditing how the cash is being spent and a full report is due in the new year.
Speaking in Thursday’s full council meeting, Cllr Barney said the authority does not have the power to stipulate how the uprate is spent.
However, the council has been asking care organisations to consider using it specifically for wages as a “priority”.
He said: “It was agreed in July to pay an additional £1 per hour to homecare and supported living providers, intended to be passed on to care workers.
“Our contracts with these providers do not allow us to stipulate that the £1 should be automatically passed to the workforce.
“But our communications with providers asked that this be considered as a priority.
“Since then, we have sought to monitor the delivery of this £1 increase.
“Our initial findings indicate a number of providers have passed the full amount, or even more than the £1 amount, to their workforce.
“Some have increased pay but not by the whole £1, with increases instead being used for mileage, fuel costs and costs associated with company cars.
“Our teams continue to audit providers and how the uplift is being implemented and a full evaluation of this will be completed in January.”
His comments came after a question from Cllr Paul Henshaw (Lab), who represents Mansfield West.
He asked how many providers used the uprate as intended and called on Cllr Barney to work with him to assess how care workers could receive higher pay.
He said: “Obviously some providers are paying, some aren’t and others are using it for different things.
“As a county council, we’ve constantly looked at and accepted that the problem with social care staffing is the rate of pay.
“Therefore, it should be incumbent upon us – and we rightly put this £1 forward thinking it would go to people.
“We have a moral duty, now we’ve made the decision to uplift, to keep monitoring and saying providers need to look very seriously at wages.”
The July cabinet decision came amid a 30 per cent turnover in care staff fuelled by the pandemic and other sectors offering better rates of pay.
It heard of “significant variation” in pay across the county, with some care providers paying the minimum wage and others above £10 per hour.
But carers had often left the sector to join less demanding industries on equal or higher rates of pay, including distribution warehouses or supermarkets.