In the news a year ago was the case of a young woman, Cait Reilly forced to work without pay in Poundland under the government’s Workfare Scheme. Whilst it can be argued that Jobseeker’s Allowance should be earned the courts thought otherwise and in October 2013 the Supreme Court found in favour of Ms. Reilly. She had earlier won her case in the Appeal Court but The Department of Work and Pensions appealed the decision.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of being paid allowances for not working, the scheme exposed the grasping cheapskate nature of the employers involved, so it is not too surprising to see Bexley council topping the list of those unscrupulous employers.
The Daily Mirror reported on Saturday that Bexley had taken on 71 people on no pay, mainly to keep the library services going after that the council made 35 workers redundant. A more comprehensive report on a dedicated anti-workfare website explains that Bexley has moved on to an alternative scheme.
As it says, Bexley council exploited a lot of local young people who probably had their benefits stopped; and for what? So that the chief executive can pocket two and a half times the salary recommended by the Secretary of State and councillor families can take home £45,000 a year for no hard work at all.
Exploitation by Bexley council is nothing new of course. Their contracted care workers are paid the minimum wage and only for the time actually spent with their clients. Over Christmas few are prepared to wreck their family celebrations for so little money and staff shortages become inevitable.
One disabled lady known to me who gets four care worker visits through the day plus through the night attendance was astounded to see the same face turn up repeatedly over a full 30 hours! The scheduler phoned her during the last of those visits to ask if the care worker could do another session but fortunately accepted the refusal without complaint.
Freezing council tax while continuing to line councillor and executive pockets comes at a high price.
The cabinet member responsible for driving down care workers’ pay and putting the needy at risk is Chris Taylor. Electors of Sidcup and Lamorbey ward take note.