‘Beg’ for a living – the £2.70 an hour job on offer from Job Centre Plus

Three days ago, there it was: ‘BEG’.  The first few letters of the reference code for a full time job at £100 a week.

BEG/41796 offers several twelve hour shifts over a 7 day working week, for a homecare assistant in the Bedminster area of Bristol.  The ad said this is a permanent job, designed to enhance the lives of elderly people.  For £2.70 an hour the care company wanted a car driver over the age of 18. This employer was even prepared to pay up front for the criminal records bureau check that is mandatory for any company taking on careworkers.

The national minimum wage for workers over the age of 21 in the UK is currently £5.93 an hour, rising to £6.08 next month.  For apprenticeships however, the minimum hourly rate is £2.50.  This job, the BEG job, was advertised as a 37 hour a week apprenticeship.

According to the National Apprenticeships Service website, apprenticeships offer the opportunity to ‘work alongside experienced staff to gain job specific skills’.  The BEG job, as advertised by the Job Centre, specifically described what was required of any successful candidate:

‘Duties include working without supervision in the homes of service users, providing support as part of the care package. Preparing meals and snacks and assisting with feeding, undertaking shopping and minor financial transactions, to assist with social activities and promote or assist with personal hygiene task which could include toileting bathing or dressing.  To prompt taking of medicines prescribed. A car driver is preferred and must be 18+ as you will be working alone in service users homes. ‘

Working without supervision, working alone, working in the privacy of an older person’s own home.  Enhancing the life of someone so vulnerable they cannot use a toilet, wash or dress themselves without help.  Trusted to spend this person’s money on their behalf and pay the household bills.  Making sure this poorly person does not forget to take their tablets.  Precious work indeed.

I told a friend who does this precious sort of work herself, as a Homecare assistant employed by a Council.  In a rage about the level of exploitation of both the potential employee and vulnerable adult, she phoned Job Centre Plus to demand the adverts’ removal.  A manager, clearly embarrassed, agreed it looked ‘suspicious’.   Within minutes, all trace of the job disappeared from both the job centre and its website.

It is unfortunate that evidence of the Job Centres’ casual disregard for employment standards can be so quickly erased.  However, if you fancy your chances and wish for BEG, sign up to the government’s apprenticeship vacancy matching service online.  You can find the same job as featured with Job Centre Plus.  Helpfully, along with the job description, the name and address of the employer is provided too.  As yet, I haven’t shared these extra pieces of information with my friend.