National Mencap are going to be leading a high profile media campaign about a current funding crisis in the sector relating to sleep in support for housing and social care services for people with a learning disability.
Mencap will be highlighting the government’s need to take action to protect services for the people that need care and support most, by taking responsibility for fully funding these services.
Mencap cannot do this alone and are asking Network Partners like Midland Mencap for support in getting this vital message heard by sharing these important points on our social media, which Mencap will also be sharing throughout the week:
1. Mencap is urging the Government to avert a crisis in the learning disability sector.
2. A change in direction of Government guidance on National Minimum Wage payments payable to support staff who sleep at the workplace, together with the precipitate action of HMRC, demanding six years back pay, has brought the sector to the brink of disaster.
3. There will be a major impact on the 5,500 people we support and some may even end up losing their support all together.
4. High politics, Brexit or the Parliamentary Recess must not be allowed to get in the way. The future of some of the most vulnerable in our society needs to be protected.
5. We are collectively calling on the Government to avert this crisis by;
• Suspending HMRC enforcement action immediately until the law is clarified and a definitive decision is made on back pay, and giving a public undertaking to fund back pay should the Court of Appeal uphold the Tribunal Decision.
There is a long standing arrangement and practice for 24-hour care community based services that are commissioned and funded by Local Authorities is that a member of staff sleeps overnight as part of the working pattern.
This provides a much needed source of reassurance for people and a safety net in the event of any emergency, and is widely used in services for people with a learning disability.
The issue that is concerning Mencap, and partners such as Midland Mencap, is around how sleep in shifts are paid. Sleep in shifts have historically been funded and paid via a flat rate allowance rather than paying per hour and this is how we have managed this across our services for a number of years.
This guidance has been subject to challenge through individual cases being brought to employment tribunal, and has been made worse by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) who are seeking employers to not only pay sleep ins at the minimum wage but to make back dated payments for up to six years to all staff doing sleep in shifts. As such we are raising two issues:
1. We are calling on government to clarify the law. The method of payment has changed but the funding has not been increased to pay for this change and this is what we are challenging.
2. We are challenging the fairness of HMRC because the guidance only changed in 2016. If government do not take action to address this and provide funding for these liabilities, then it places serious financial risks on service provider organisations.
We will of course update you on any developments in relation to this important issue and for those of you who may follow Midland Mencap through social media, you will see growing activity over the coming weeks which we hope you will add your voice to and support.
Show your support and help spread awareness by sharing posts about sleep-ins on social media and use the hashtag #SleepInCrisis.
From Dave Rogers, CEO of Midland Mencap.