Mallinson masquerades as a friend of private home care workers

A letter to the Swindon Advertiser

It’s not enough that Peter Mallinson is taking the work of the Council’s Homecare workers off of them, he has to insult them in the Advertiser as well. They are “too expensive” to employ he says, even though they are only on £8 an hour. We await to see the break down of the supposed cost of £45 an hour, but it is hardly the fault of the workers. Might there be a problem with the management here – the ones that Mallinson is supposed to be in charge of? He talks as if the “productivity” of the staff is low because they are not working hard enough. In real life they can only do the work they are given.

He speaks of “efficiency or productivity”, as if he was talking about a factory producing tins of beans. Perhaps he can explain what the terms mean in the context of providing a service to human beings who need support. It couldn’t mean spending less time with them, could it? That would undermine the quality of the service. When the Quality Care Commission last examined the Council’s in-house service they rated it “excellent”. You are unlikely to get the same quality for £15 an hour. As Mavis Childs said, you get what you pay for.

I suspect that when Mr Mallinson speaks of efficiency he is talking purely about the cost. From the point of view of the clients, what they need is people who arrive when they should, spend the full amount of time with them, do the job well, and – is there a price on this Peter? – provide human contact which is important to maintaining the morale of people who are old, infirmed, and lonely.

Mr Mallinson is obviously feeling the heat. He is looking for friends. That is why he masquerades as a friend of those who work for the private Homecare providers. Contrary to his assertion, opponents of privatisation have not criticised these workers. The staff do the best they can under the system they have to work under. The problem is with the owners and the fact that they selling a commodity so as to make a profit, rather than providing a social service.

Profit margins in this industry are so tight – the overwhelming majority of expenditure is on staff – that in order to make a profit these companies employ staff on as low a wage as they can, and as few staff as they can get away with employing. That is where their profit comes from. It is an industry with a low paid and exploitated workforce.

Having criticised the previous government for under-funding Swindon, as soon as their government took office the ruling group accepted without question even worse funding. We are now suffering the consequences of their ideological support for the “small state”. Contrary to Mr Bluh’s fantasy of a non-ideological Council they are in fact ‘free-market’ ideologues.

Martin Wicks

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