If your gran was ending her days in a care home, would you want her looked after by unpaid forced labour from the buroo, including eighteen-year olds with next to no training? If you were a qualified care worker – already a grossly underpaid profession – would you be happy to be made to do the job you are trained in for £73.10 a week buroo money? And would you want to live in a society where teenagers who have just emerged from the rigors of the care system are sent to look after the dying, and rewarded with a bare £1.60 an hour? The UK is that society.
The SUWN was approached last week by a care worker, Jim, who has been out of work just over six months. His ‘Job Coach’ had sent him to a job interview at a home that provides palliative care: a place where patients only leave in a box. But he is familiar with this kind of work and was pleased to be getting the chance of a job. It was only later that he discovered that this was not a job in the normal sense. He was being expected to work three twelve hour shifts a week for six weeks for nothing more than his buroo money. Jim is experienced enough in the world of work to know that this isn’t right – and he had one of our leaflets. He rang us up before going to meet his Job Coach again, and he has refused to sign the papers to enable the placement to go ahead. He will now let them know that he has done everything else that was asked, but just not signed any documents – which he has a legal right not to do. Because he has done all that they can make him do, he shouldn’t get sanctioned, otherwise refusing to do forced labour could have cost him thirteen weeks without benefits. He wants to do this work – but he rightly expects to get paid for it.
Jim told us that when he was in the care home for his interview he met two teenagers who had already been sent there from the buroo. Both had been in care and both had been sent on the placement almost as soon as they had signed on for their (under 25s) benefit of £57.90 a week. The young girl had so little money that he bought her a sandwich and a coffee. No food is provided by the ‘care’ home. But the young man’s situation was even starker. He had been put into care because his mother was an alcoholic – and she is now a patient in the home, dying from alcohol-related brain damage.
We are not publicising the name and location of the home as the young people we have mentioned are still there, but we have informed the local MP of everything that is happening.