Hundreds of care workers face pay cuts to keep older people's homes open

Stenson Court is one of seven Doncaster care homes owned by Runwood Homes
Stenson Court is one of seven Doncaster care homes owned by Runwood Homes

Hundreds of care workers in Doncaster face big pay cuts, which bosses say are needed to keep older people's homes open.

Runwood Homes operates seven care homes across the town, which it took over from Doncaster Council less than two years ago.

But it says those homes, between them employing around 250 staff, are running at a loss and are no longer financially 'sustainable' as things stand.

The firm plans to cut basic pay for care assistants from a top rate of £8.82 an hour to £7.68, as well as scrapping the weekly allowance of up to £60 a week for unsociable hours and reducing benefits. Other staff would also see their pay slashed.

The proposals would rewrite the contracts of all those who transferred from council employment to work for Runwood under their existing pay and conditions when the homes changed hands in September 2015.

The partner of one employee, who asked to remain anonymous, claimed she would be nearly £4,000 a year worse off under the proposed new deal.

He questioned why anyone would continue to work for what is little more than the £7.50 an hour minimum wage in what he said was a 'highly-pressured' environment.

"This is a difficult job. My wife has a lot of experience and has done numerous courses. If she's going to be paid that little she says she would rather have a cleaning job," he said.

He warned some of the homes may be forced to close if the new conditions are pushed through and Runwood cannot find sufficient staff.

Elaine Gilvear, Runwood Homes' director of operations for the north, said: "We are consulting with our staff on proposals to reduce our costs in our Doncaster homes. However, we would stress that no final decisions have been made.

"We very much value our skilled and dedicated workforce and we are committed to fully engaging with them and consulting on these proposals.

"It's a sad reality that funding levels for social care are under strain in this economic climate. However, our priorities are to maintain a good quality service provision for our residents and preserve jobs for our staff."

A letter to employees, seen by the paper, states that Runwood's Doncaster homes are running at a loss due to a range of factors including rising staff sickness levels, a downturn in referrals and 'pressure on rates' paid for care by the council.

The partner of one employee said sickness levels were high because staff were under such pressure.

The company as a whole is understood to be comfortably in the black, having posted a £12.3m profit for the year ending in September 2015.

Runwood last year announced plans for a new £5m facility in Doncaster to replace two of its existing care homes.

The homes affected, which between them have 274 beds, are: Plantation View, Cantley; Oldfield House, Stainforth; Rowena House, Conisbrough; Owston View, Carncroft; Rose House, Armthorpe; Stenson Court, Balby; and Gattison House, Rossington.

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