THE mother of a disabled son has made an emotional plea to councillors to protect his care.

Jo Stanton told a full meeting of Bexley Council she felt "helpless and hopeless" because staff at her son Mark's care home are facing major salary cuts.

The Carlton Centre in Sidcup is run by MCCH; a disabled service provider which houses, cares and feeds 300 adults in Bexley.

Union Unison claims all MCCH frontline staff in the south-east have been handed letters saying they must take pay cuts of up to 50 per cent to level out rates among employees.

Mrs Stanton told councillors: "The new staffing model proposed by MCCH and supported by you may not be illegal, but it is certainly immoral.

"It will result in most staff leaving.

"This is not only uncaring but an abuse of staff, my son and me as a carer."

Bexley Council signed a contract in May this year commissioning MCCH to provide adult services for Bexley until May 31, 2014.

Mrs Stanton, whose son Mark, 33, has profound learning disabilities, was joined by around 20 other protesters holding banners and chanting "save our staff" before the meeting.

Responding to a question from Labour Councillor for Northend Stefano Borella, Bexley Council leader Cllr Teresa O'Neill said MCCH were in charge of setting pay rates for staff.

She said: "MCCH are responsible for terms and conditions.

"They are under consultation and no terms have been decided at the moment."

News Shopper: MCCH protesters

Demonstrators against MCCH cuts hold aloft this week's News Shopper front page.

MCCH response

Currently demands on council budgets are continuing to increase and resources are increasingly tight.

Councils are all seeking to get the best value for money for any services delivered.

As we look forward, we want to make sure that we are well positioned to continue to provide good quality services in Bexley.

Chief executive Peter Thompson: "We believe that our new rates of pay and terms and conditions of employment are fair and appropriate in the current job market and will enable us to continue to recruit quality staff.

"We do not accept the suggestion that paying market rates of pay will lower the standard of care and support we provide, and there is no evidence to support the assertion that abuse is related to pay rates.

"There is no reduction to training budgets in the organisation, nor will there be." 

With a long history within adult social care, we understand the vital role our staff play and felt it necessary to ensure we had the right structure, pay and conditions in place to protect jobs in the long term for all our staff.

For some this means improved pay, for some this means some unwelcome changes.

We are supporting all staff through these difficult changes.

Above all, we recognised the need for changes in how we deliver our services.

We have developed a personalised approach to ensure we meet the needs of those who rely on our services. We have consulted staff and Unison throughout the process.

The majority of our staff will be 5-10 per cent adversely affected but there are some who will see a more significant reduction in their remuneration.

We fully appreciate that our staff are our greatest asset therefore we will be implementing the changes sensitively with due consideration to the impact on every single member of staff.

Those who will be adversely affected will receive a transitional payment equivalent to any loss of basic pay calculated over a six month period.

We have provided as much notice as possible to our employees of the changes, having notified all staff back in March 2012 and the transitional payment we have offered gives further time to adjust to the new rates of pay we are offering.