CAMPAIGNERS have forced a debate on controversial social care changes after collecting more than 8,000 signatures.
Trade unionists organised a petition against Kirklees Council’s plan to privatise some care for vulnerable adults.
Council carers currently provide intensive help to people with complex needs and a small proportion of routine care.
Kirklees wants to privatise its routine work – meaning the council’s share of the care sector would drop from 17.5% to 15%.
Trade union Unison fears this will lead to a drop in the quality of service for elderly and disabled people.
Campaigners presented a petition of more than 8,000 signatures to last month’s council meeting.
Under Kirklees rules, councillors must debate the proposal at their next meeting – which takes place from 5pm on Wednesday at Huddersfield Town Hall.
Unison’s Yorkshire regional organiser Leonie Sharp said yesterday that privatisation puts vulnerable adults at risk.
She said: “It’s not that private care workers don’t have the same compassion and care, but that they are employed by companies who are in the sector solely for profit.”
She claimed: “They provide limited or no training to their staff in health and safety and staff are often paid the minimum wage.
“The time they have to spend with each client is limited.
“We have examples of service users who have a different carer for each visit without any continuity of care.
“Staff turnover is extremely high in private companies, leading to strangers coming into people’s homes to conduct personal and intimate care.”
Kirklees Unison will demonstrate outside the town hall before next week’s debate.
Ms Sharp added: “I think the way we are treating the elderly, the disabled and vulnerable in our community is a national disgrace.
“Unison will campaign vigorously in all local communities to defend our public services against these profit-making organisations.”
Kirklees rules state that any petition with more than 5,000 names must be debated by councillors.
Kathleen McHendry, who organised the petition, will have five minutes to present her case at Wednesday’s meeting. Councillors will then discuss the issue for a maximum of 15 minutes.
A report to Kirklees defends private home care companies.
It reads: “The council has extensive experience in growing and supporting new business and managing cross-sector quality.
“Our delivery partners provide good quality services and allow choice for local service-users while our quality and contract management ensure all delivery is customer-focused.”