Those who seek to defend the decision of Fife ’s SNP councillors to privatise all ten council
residential care homes are quick to say that Labour closed homes in the past.
I would like to put the record straight and say why
privatising the entire council care home provision is as wrong today as it
would have been over a decade ago. When two homes were closed 12 years ago it
was because the buildings had reached the end of their useful life as care
homes; they did not meet the required standards of access or building quality.
At that time a decision was taken to close two and invest in the other homes to
ensure they had a future. This was because Fife Labour realised that it was
important to keep a mixed provision of residential care for older people. There
were those at the time who argued that we could save a lot of money by closing
them all and letting the private sector take over.
Labour in Fife took the view then, as we do now, that direct
council provision has a vital role to play in setting the standards for how
care homes should be operated by providing the kind of quality we expect for
residents. For this reason we rejected wholesale privatisation 12 years ago and
have fought it this time round.
It is true that our homes today need new investment but it
is just not true to say that they will have to close anytime soon as a result.
The real reason that the SNP in Fife are privatising the
homes – and they are on record saying so – is that they think care staff get
paid too much, and they could save money by “buying in” care from a private
sector homes which might only pay the minimum wage. Personally I find it
despicable that SNP councillors think a care worker who carries out such an
important job has a value based only on what he or she costs. Staff in Council
homes get good quality training and support and the equipment for the job and
it shows in the level of service they provide. No-one doubts the commitment of staff
in the private sector but many operators make the staff pay for their own
training and for their own overalls and specialised clothing as well as paying
low wages. This is bound to affect morale and turnover and this in turn this
affects the service being provided.
You have to ask yourself, if the SNP think care workers are
paid too much then who is next?
It is not too late to get involved and stop this shocking
attack on care services which will drive down the standard and quality of care
for the elderly in Fife . The SNP know the cost of everything and the value of
nothing. I ask you, who will talk up for you when they come after your pay or
drive down standards in services you need? This is the question every Fifer
should be asking of their SNP councillors.
Alex Rowley is Fife Council Labour Leader