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HMRC ruling puts vulnerable people at risk of losing care

A new ruling by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) could mean that vulnerable people are at risk of losing care.

The ruling, which is the result of an employment tribunal brought by Unison, states that carers working overnight shifts are required to be paid at least the national minimum wage for every hour spent in the home or accommodation of a patient, even if the carer is asleep.

Until recently, many carers were paid flat rates for night shifts and overnight stays, but the ruling means that carers will be able to claim up to six years of back-pay for any night shifts they were not paid minimum wage for.

Minimum wage is currently £7.50 per hour for anyone aged 25 and over.

HMRC has announced its intention to seek arrears for any sleep in shifts prior to July 27 2017, and while the government has placed a temporary suspension on enforcing any actions until October, many are worried they will not be able to foot the bill when the time comes.

There is widespread concern that charities and individuals will not able to afford back payments to carers, and will also be unable to afford to pay carers for future overnight stays.

It means that those with disabilities, illnesses and the most vulnerable in society could lose out on the crucial care that they need.

Mencap, a learning disability charity, is campaigning against the ruling. The #StopSleepInCrisis petition, started by the charity, calls on the government to give a public undertaking to fund back-pay.

Mencap states that back-pay could amount to up to £400million across all organisations affected, and this does not include claims made against individuals that employ their own carers.

The charity currently employs 5,500 carers to deliver overnight stays, and believes many charities and providers of carers face bankruptcy if they are forced to pay the HMRC bill.

John Garrard, Managing Director at Fish Insurance, said: “The news of this ruling is deeply concerning to us, as we know it will most likely affect a majority of our 40,000 independent living policyholders.

“Overnight care is crucial for people with certain disabilities and medical conditions, and these vulnerable members of our society should not have to worry about not being able to afford the care that they need.”

If you want to check whether or not you are paying staff national minimum wage, existing Fish independent living full cover policyholders can call Peninsula 0344 892 2480.

Alternatively, if you wish to speak to Fish Insurance about the protection it offers, contact the team on 0333 331 3900.

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