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Shared Lives carer pay during Covid-19

We all need to stay at home during the Covid-19 crisis. But many people using Shared Lives are high-risk and are stuck at home for the longest. Many of you have been in touch to let us know what it’s like.

Some Shared Lives carers are caring for people without a break, and have the additional costs of more food, utilities and expenses. The day services they usually rely on are closed and they having to care 24/7. Half have lost vital income because they provide day support for someone who can no longer come to visit them. They are also not yet eligible for the government’s financial support for self-employed people due to the Shared Lives tax rules. See below for what Shared Lives Plus is doing to raise awareness and get a better deal for carers...

Our work with government and shadow cabinet

On our members’ behalf, we’ve been talking to various senior government officials, including the Minister for Care, Helen Whateley and Shadow Minister for health and social care, Liz Kendall, a long-standing supporter of Shared Lives. We have been pressing issues like PPE, testing and especially the government’s self-employment package. The issue is currently with the Treasury, after a Conservative Baroness raised it with the Chancellor directly, and former Shadow Care minister Barbara Keeley wrote an open letter to him, asking for the rules to change so that your profits registering as £0 won’t stand in the way of self-employed compensation, as it does at the moment.

Additional pay

The government has given local authorities £1.6bn to help during this time, and we need to make sure some of it comes to Shared Lives carers. We strongly recommend that schemes and carers talk to commissioners about recognising the responsibility, challenges, not to mention the impact of caring in your lives.

Our guidance and campaigns have said that councils should commit to Shared Lives carers’ pay increasing in line with other social care workforce pay. There was a planned increase of 6.2% to NLW which pre-dates the current crisis, so we are strongly advocating that Shared Lives carers should have a 6.2% raise regardless of COVID-19. We recommend that Shared Lives schemes consider introducing temporary arrangements to support Shared Lives carers who would otherwise lose income due to support interruptions or sickness through Coronavirus – this will sustain Shared Lives in the long term.

We have produced guidance for schemes, guidance for commissioners and a template business case for schemes to use to start conversations with commissioners (all found in members’ online accounts). We are also encouraging Shared Lives carers to write to your local MP – and some of them have been in touch with us – thank you!

In March we launched the third year of our invaluable pay campaign to make sure you’re supported through Covid-19.

Successful outcomes

Many local authorities have recognised the additional responsibilities that Shared Lives carers are taking who have people living with them – and the loss of income for carers offering day support or short breaks.

With our guidance, business cases for commissioners and support from around the UK, many schemes have achieved successful outcomes. Here are some success stories, comments and feedback:

  • “I just wanted to say ‘thank you’, our joint lobbying effort has had a positive outcome! All cancelled short breaks and day support are being paid this week to carers who would have lost this income, backdated to March. Also, long term carers are being paid for providing additional day support at £100 per week for the first person, £50 for their second person and £25 for their third. This has also been backdated to 30 March.” Portsmouth Shared Lives
  • “I’m pleased to say the LA Commissioning team have agreed to pay a 10% increase in fees to Shared Lives carers during the crisis, to be reviewed on monthly basis.” Herefordshire
  • “We are starting by gathering data from our Shared Lives carers to look at each household and how much their costs have increased. Questionnaire via mail chimp to carers, good response so far. We are taking similar stance to other schemes around day support payments – looking at each case and discussing with each local authority.” Shared Lives South West
  • “Our MD is in negotiations with the Local Authority to seek additional payments for the carers due the circumstances. I feel that the LA will support with the request as they appreciate that all the carers are happy to continue with the care and support needs within their homes.” Vivo Care Choices
  • “Very positive discussions with our Local Authority re additional funding for support during the day.” Avalon Group
  • “We have secured day support funding for all carers, after persevering with the commissioners and requests from carers.” Certitude
  • “We have given a £1500 per person supported, payment to Shared Lives carers who live with people they support to cover additional expenses and recognise their support, over the next three months.
  • “A temporary 5% increase has been awarded to all carers (on top of the annual increase) due to the covid crisis.” Worcestershire
  • “We secured a pay increase of £100 per week for the first person, £50 for their second and £25 for their third, backdated to march. We are stronger when we work together!” Better Together, Thurrock
  • “Salford Care Organisation agreed to “pay on plan”, including daytime carers. This means that they will be paid for any support that hasn’t taken place because either the carer or the person supported is ill or isolating.” Aspire, Salford
  • “I can confirm we have had success in securing pay for our day support carers”. Southend
  • “We have adapted our day support provision so that carers are being paid for support for shorter sessions over five days, instead of usual sessions over three days, to protect their income and continue to support individuals and Shared Lives carers they live with – better for everyone!”
  • “Our commissioners have agreed to fund the respite placement given the unprecedented circumstances. The guidance did assist the decision making process.” Aspire, Cheshire
  • “We have a meeting with our local authority today who have agreed to pay the carers for the cancelled respite during the lockdown and the day services too. They have asked us to suggest an hourly rate.” Bethphage, Shrewsbury
  • “I’ve just managed to agree a 5% uplift for all our long term carers.” Cambridgeshire
  • “Will be across the board for all full time carers. Respite carers we’ve stopped respite but are paying them for the number of nights they usually provide.” Islington
  • “I have confirmation that if a carer is sick and unable to provide care – that we will continue to pay them (usually self employed people don’t get sick pay). We have just introduced banding and every carer has had an increase in payments.” Hackney
  • “I sent an email to my manager and the commissioners putting a case forward for additional pay for carers and I have to say it was really helpful using the information I received from Shared Lives Plus.” Southampton
  • “Organised across the board uplift for SL carers during covid-19.” Aberdeenshire

Join our invaluable campaign!

I’m a Shared lives carer, what can I do?

  • It can feel awkward talking about money – but focus on the incredible difference you’ve made to people’s lives by being a Shared Lives carer. It’s important you’re recognised and valued locally, so that Shared Lives continues and grows, long after Covid-19.
  • Talk to and write to your scheme, and head of service, and write to your MP, MSP or Assembly member using this letter, and ask them to support us in parliament.
  • Talk to other Shared Lives carers in your area and see if you can gather a group together with your scheme
  • Contact our carer support team who could work out what to do together locally
  • Invite your head of service, councillor or MP to visit your home virtually by using video calling, so they can see difference you make
  • Share your posts on social media, join in with our campaign online.

For more ideas, get in touch with our membership team – we’re here for you – on membership@sharedlivesplus.org.uk or join our Cuppa for carers on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3pm on Zoom (email us for the link).

I’m a Shared Lives scheme worker

It’s vital Shared Lives carers are supported and sustained through this time. Their money worries are weighing heavily on them, especially as they have people depending on them at home, for longer and in more challenging circumstances than usual.

  • Talk to your Head of Service and commissioner: our guidance is for Shared Lives schemes to support Shared Lives carers financially to keep them caring and in the sector when we need them most. Councils have emergency funding and it makes business sense to use a tiny portion of it in this way.
  • Use our guide, based on reports from 20 schemes and 300 Shared Lives carers about the money that’s needed. Remember that Shared Lives carers are a valuable part of adult social care and are helping to build a kinder stronger society that we need more than ever.
  • Invite your commissioner, Head of Service and MP, MSP, Assembly Member, to meet Shared Lives carers virtually – arrange a meeting, tour of their houses, so they can see their transformative work for themselves.
  • Ask your Shared Lives carers for stories, videos and quotes about what it’s like caring at the moment and share with decision-makers.
  • Support us on social media and share pictures and stories

I’m a supporter, how can I help?

  • Write to your MP, MSP and Assembly Member using this letter, and ask them to support us in parliament
  • Talk to a Shared Lives carer, let them know they have your support and share their story online (with everyone’s consent)
  • Support our campaign online
  • Donate to us and help us make Shared Lives voices louder