Snubbed support workers have described being excluded from the Scottish Government’s £500 “thank you” bonus as a “betrayal”.
Staff from the charity’s Arrows service in Moray have continued to work on the front line through the coronavirus pandemic to support adults battling alcohol and drugs problems.
However, they have been blocked from receiving the bonus due to red tape requiring the national charity to be registered with the Care Inspectorate – despite it being commissioned to provide services that report directly to the Scottish Government.
‘Caseload during pandemic increases by a third’
Quarriers staff based in Elgin have now taken their case directly to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon after describing the £500 rejection as a “blatant disrespect” of their professional roles.
Service manager Marie McDonald revealed the group’s caseload had increased by a third during the pandemic while teams have delivered more than 8,000 three-course meals to vulnerable people in need.
She said: “We are commissioned by the local health and social care partnership to deliver frontline drug and alcohol support, our doors have remained open throughout.
We feel angry, insulted and betrayed.”
Marie McDonald, service manager Quarriers in Elgin
“We are front line adult social care workers and we have gone above and beyond to support the most vulnerable people within our communities during the pandemic.
“It now appears the announcement was made with the intent of grabbing headlines, gaining political points and public support in the lead up to elections.
“We feel angry, insulted and betrayed.”
Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement in November last year explained that “every social care worker” would be eligible for the bonus to thank them for their “extraordinary service” during the pandemic.
A letter signed by Mrs McDonald and 17 of her colleagues has now been sent to the first minister asking her to reconsider.
However, the service manager has stressed her quarrel is not to secure the money, but to ensure the government is truthful with the population.
She added: “If there’s not enough money or whatever then they should just apologise and tell the truth, I would accept that.”
Quarriers call Scottish Government £500 bonus scheme ‘unfair’
Quarriers chief executive Ron Culley said: “In Scotland all health and social care workers are equal – it’s just that some are more equal than others.
“The unfairness of the £500 bonus scheme continues to rankle, and I for one share the frustrations. How can the Scottish Government recognise the efforts of a drug and alcohol worker in the NHS but not in Quarriers?”
Quarriers say that despite them administering the £500 payments regardless, they are continuing to make representations to the Scottish Government.
Robin Taggart, branch secretary of union Unison, said: “We know that dependency on drugs and alcohol increased significantly following last year’s lockdown stretching the service’s capacity to the limit.
“Arrows staff were also having to deal with the fallout from the pandemic such as the rise in the numbers of people whose mental health was adversely affected. Which makes it all the more inexplicable that they have been excluded from this payment.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The pro-rata £500 thank you payment is for NHS and adult social care staff, and more than 300,000 people will be eligible for this.
“We are hugely grateful to the efforts over recent months of the many key workers in different sectors across Scotland as they have risen to the challenge of responding to the pandemic.
“For people working for private employers, it would be for their employer to determine their remuneration and any additions to existing pay which may be appropriate for these staff.”