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“Inherently unfair” social care funding needs total overhaul

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Moves to top up the pay of self-isolating social care staff in Cardiganshire should be part of a complete overhaul of the “inherently unfair” way the sector is funded.

According to Care Forum Wales, the dysfunctional system had led to chronic underfunding for a quarter of a century with many care homes facing the prospect of financial ruin and the threat of closure while having to deal with the enormous challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The chair, Mario Kreft MBE, spoke out after Health Minister Vaughan Gething announced he is planning to top up the wages of social-care workers forced to self-isolate because of coronavirus.

At the moment they are only eligible for statutory sick pay – currently £95.85 per week – if they have to self-isolate or take sick leave due to the virus.

Mr Gething said an announcement would be made “soon”, adding that “my expectation is that we will top-up the wages of those taking time off because of coronavirus to 100% of their normal wages”.

The Health Minister also acknowledged there were “broader long term questions about the terms of social care workers”.

Mr Kreft said: “We welcome anything that is going to improve the terms and conditions of care workers.

“Providers did have concerns that there were incentives for people not to self-isolate when perhaps they ought to.

“The funding care homes receive from local authorities and health boards enables providers to do no more than pay statutory sick pay and nothing over and above that.

“If we’ve got to incentivise people to self-isolate then that money has to come from somewhere – either the local authorities and health boards or the Welsh Government.

“We have invited to a meeting next week to look at the detail of how it can work and this is among the issues we will be raising.

“What this does not address is the inherent unfairness that has been built into the system over a generation when social care has been largely commissioned by local authorities which has effectively set pay levels at such a low rate.

“We have had 25 years of failure and inadequate resources. This is a golden opportunity to right some fundamental flaws that have pushed the social care sector to the brink of financial ruin.

“Even before Covid, we have suffered regular care home closures across Wales because of the postcode lottery of fees.

“That’s why we devised the Cheapskate Awards to highlight the gross unfairness of a system that ensures that a care home in Cardiff receives £12,000 a year more for providing the same level of service for an individual resident in a care home in Powys. That equates to a staggering £500,000 a year for a care home with 40 beds.

“Fundamentally, this is about the traditional Welsh values of fairness and equality.

“The league table of fees across Wales was a clear illustration that the current system is unfair and unsustainable.

“Even the fees paid in Cardiff are inadequate – they are merely the best of a bad bunch.

“Five of the six local authorities in North Wales are in the bottom 10 of the worst payers so we also have a North-South divide adding to the inequity of the post code lottery.

“Working in social care is already a career to be proud of but we now need to make sure that it also a career in which our wonderful staff are also properly paid, one that they can afford to go into.

“The only way to achieve that is have root and branch reforms to the way social care is funded with an urgent national action plan which recognises that the sector is a pillar of Wales’ foundation economy as designated by the Welsh Government.

“It would be sheer folly to carry on doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. We need a totally new approach, fit for the 21st century to enable us to pay social care workers what they deserve.”

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“Significant” heroin dealer to pay back £40,500 in criminal gains

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A MAN jailed for possessing heroin with intent to supply and money laundering has been ordered to pay back £40,500 gained through criminal activity.

Grzegorz Kramp, of Commins Coch in Ceredigion, was sentenced in February to three years and nine months in prison following a Dyfed-Powys Police investigation.

A court heard how the 45-year-old was a “significant street dealer” in the area after police stopped his car and found heroin worth £10,000 inside.

Following sentencing, the force’s Economic Crime Team began Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) proceedings against Kramp to strip him of the funds earned through illegal activity.

Financial investigator Rob Thomas said: “Financial enquiries were carried out as part of the investigation, and it was revealed that a significant amount of money had gone through the defendant’s bank account in the period leading up to his arrest.

“This gave us grounds to pursue a Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation as it was clear Kramp had financially benefitted from his criminal activity.”

On Friday, June 18 a POCA hearing was held at Swansea Crown Court, where HHJ Huw Rees declared that Kramp had benefitted by £77,179.66.

He imposed a confiscation order requiring the defendant to pay £40,500. This will be split between £5,000 seized from Kramp, and equity from his home address, which is to be sold within three months.

Mr Thomas said: “To explain the difference in the amount gained by Kramp against the amount he has been ordered to pay back – proceeds of crime are split into two figures – the benefit figure, which is the amount gained, and the available amount, which is the amount of cash seized or assets which can be sold.

“In this instance, the benefit amount is over £77,000 that related to unexplained income in Kramp’s bank account over a number of months, but the available amount that could be recovered in cash or assets was calculated to be £40,500, which is what he will now pay back.

“This order is another success on top of the original sentence as by taking out the profits that fund crime, we can help disrupt the cycle and prevent further offences from taking place.”

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A group of Year 9 pupils at Ysgol Gyfun Penglais asked to self-isolate as COVID-19 case confirmed

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A GROUP of Year 9 pupils at Ysgol Gyfun Penglais, Aberystwyth have been asked to self-isolate for 10 days following the confirmation of a COVID-19 case at the school.

In addition, pupils travelling on the same bus as the confirmed positive case have also been contacted and asked to self-isolate for 10 days again. These pupils come from more than one Year Group from Ysgol Gyfun Penglais.

All confirmed contacts of the positive case must remain at home for 10 days to reduce the possible spread of the virus to family, friends and the wider community. The pupils will be taught remotely for this period.

The parents of all these pupils have been contacted by the School and will also be supported by Ceredigion Contact Tracing Team.

The Council urges all parents to refer their children for a test if they develop any of the following symptoms, which are:

·       a high temperature

·       a new continuous cough

·       a loss or change to sense of smell or taste

  • mild summer cold type symptoms – including sore throat, runny nose, headache
  • flu-like symptoms, including myalgia (muscle ache or pain); excessive tiredness; persistent headache; runny nose or blocked nose; persistent sneezing; sore throat and/or hoarseness, shortness of breath or wheezing
  • any new or change in symptoms following a previous negative test.

In addition, parents should book a COVID-19 test if their children feel generally feeling unwell and have a history of being in contact with a known COVID-19 case.

You can apply for a test on https://gov.wales/apply-coronavirus-covid-19-test or by phoning 119.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Ceredigion has increased significantly over recent days and we are urging people to continue to maintain 2 metre social distancing, wear a face mask indoors, wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds and keep inside spaces well ventilated. Following these rules will stop the spread of COVID-19 in Ceredigion.

No further details will be provided regarding this matter.

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Three services in two days for New Quay RNLI

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NEW QUAY RNLI’s inshore lifeboat was called into action three times in two days last week, firstly to a surfer near New Quay while on a training exercise on Thursday evening (17 June), then to a windsurfer in Aberaeron on Friday (18 June) and, while returning to station, a passenger boat in New Quay with a fouled propeller. 

On Thursday evening Dylan Price, New Quay RNLI’s helm was taking crew on a training exercise when they were requested by HM Coastguard to assist a surfer in difficulty in Llanina, near New Quay. Dylan said, “On arrival we found them safe and well so a false alarm with good intent. We then continued with our training which included search patterns, a man overboard scenario and boat handling drills.” 

Next, on Friday afternoon, in a strong northerly wind, the inshore lifeboat was tasked on service once again. Pete Yates, New Quay RNLI’s helm said, “We were requested by HM Coastguard to launch our inshore lifeboat at 1.40pm to a windsurfer in difficulty off Aberaeron. We made best speed up the coast in difficult conditions and arrived just as the casualty made it safely ashore, to be met by the New Quay Coastguard team. 

“On returning to New Quay we assisted a passenger boat with a fouled propeller. We were able to free the rope from the propeller and then returned to station. Good outcomes all round! Remember if you see if you see anyone in difficulty or you find yourself in trouble on the coast call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.” 

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