Westminster carers unsure of their jobs as contract finishes

With the January 31 deadline looming, hundreds of carers for the borough’s elderly still don’t know if they are to lose their jobs

Hundreds of carers in Westminster are being kept in the dark about whether they are to lose their jobs or not, just two weeks before their care contract ends.

The Wood&Vale reported in November that care company Housing 21 was to lose its current contract with Westminster Council on January 31 in a bid to save the council �1million.

But almost two months since the news was revealed – and just days before the contract ends – more than 200 carers have still not been told whether they will transfer to the new care companies, or if they will be made redundant.

Gina O’Connor, 62, assistant branch secretary of Westminster Unison and a carer in the borough for 26 years, says the issue is whether Transfer of Undertakings Regulations (TUPE) apply which would see the carers’ employment terms automatically transferred from Housing 21 to a new employer.

“The staff are very anxious and hurt,” she said. “They don’t know if they are going to have a job or where it will be if they do.”

In November the decision was made not to renew Housing 21’s contract, which has been replaced with nine separate providers who are set to take over their role from February.

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Currently Housing 21 provides 6,900 hours of care every week to more than 2,000 elderly Westminster residents over the age of 65 – some of whom are bed-ridden, disabled or suffering from mental health issues.

Les Clarke, Housing 21 director of strategy and service development said: “This is a delicate, complex and sensitive process and we are communicating with staff and unions as fully and effectively as we possibly can. We are committed to providing full information as soon as we are able to do so.”

Cllr Daniel Astaire, cabinet member for society, families and adult services, said Housing 21 was “ultimately responsible for consulting with their employees and handling staffing issues”.