Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Mr. Burstow: In a written answer on 19 October, the Minister stated that care workers who are self-employed could remain so. Can he confirm that now?

Mr. Johnson: I shall return to that in a moment. I have one final point to make first. The article quotes someone from an employment agency as saying:

that is, paying the minimum wage, complying with employment law and providing proper paid leave--

    "is all the more unnecessary because many carers come from abroad--mainly from the Commonwealth".

We submit that all workers in this country are entitled to basic minimum standards.

On another piece of misinformation, let me say that labelling workers self-employed--we have no desire to remove the ability to hire self-employed carers--does not necessarily mean that they are. Claiming that those placed in bogus self-employment are not entitled to the minimum wage or to working-time rights will cut no ice in the review that we are conducting.

29 Oct 1999 : Column 1275

Whether individual carers are self-employed for employment law or tax purposes depends on the nature of their contracts. Any disputes will continue to be assessed by the courts using established pointers to employment or self-employment.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned bureaucracy. We are well aware of the need to keep red tape to a minimum. As I have said, we propose to repeal a number of statutory requirements which are no longer necessary, such as those which prevent temporary workers from getting information about better jobs elsewhere. We are looking at ways to streamline the proposals to the maximum extent.

Bureaux have raised with us the need to respond quickly to customer demand. Workers are finding that they are taken advantage of as a result of that process, because the rate that they are offered on the telephone when they apply for the job is completely different from the rate that they are actually paid. We may be seeking to introduce bureaucracy--a term that may sound pejorative--but it is to the benefit of the hirer and carer.

I have two final points. The hon. Gentleman raised the crucial issues of costs and VAT. On costs, I cannot add anything to the regulatory impact assessment in the consultation document that was published at the end of May. We do not have available the information for which the hon. Gentleman asked. I am afraid that the Treasury is responsible for VAT. We are in the middle of the consultation period so I am not in a position to tell the hon. Gentleman the results of consultation that is continuing or to say anything other than we are

29 Oct 1999 : Column 1276

working closely with the Treasury on the problems that he has identified. We ourselves highlighted these problems in the consultation document. Having done so, we are certainly minded to ensure that we find a solution--

It being half-past Two o'clock, the motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.--[Mr. Dowd.]

Mr. Johnson: I fear that my inexperience is showing, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

We want to make sure that the problems are tackled. I would submit to the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam that this is the only area where there is a legitimate area for concern about the proposals. Lurid stories about raising £60 million suggest that some bureaux are not paying the minimum wage or paid holidays, are not looking after carers properly, and are leaving the hirer in a state of ambiguity, with infirm and elderly people suffering accordingly.

I thank the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam for raising the debate, and I assure him that his comments will be looked at as part of the consultation process. I am sure that, when he sees the final proposals--which we hope will be ready late in the winter, to come out next spring--he will feel that we have done a proper job on behalf of all people in need of care in this country, including Elizabeth.

Question put and agreed to.

 IndexHome Page