TV probe into ‘illegal workers’ at care home
THE OWNER of a scandal-hit care home in St Austell has come under fire again after allegedly hiring illegal workers to look after residents.
A BBC Inside Out South West’s investigation which hit TV screens on Friday claims a self-employment sham was used by the Morleigh Group to hire illegal workers from eastern Europe.
Presenter Jemma Woodman revealed the group had used recruitment agency Ucruitment to bring in workers from Croatia, who have restricted rights to work in the UK.
The agency and the care home owners have denied any wrongdoing.
Horrifying levels of neglect and cruelty were exposed at Clinton House based on Truro Road by a BBC Panorama investigation last year.
Clinton House was shut down and the Care Quality Commission issued a damning report on all of Morleigh Group’s six homes.
The company’s owner, Patricia Juleff, then sold the entire business to Cornwallis Care Services Limited.
During the 30-minute report, the BBC investigation revealed that migrants were working illegally, could barely speak English and didn’t pay any tax.
The programme said Mrs Juleff had sold the firm but still owned a house in St Austell where foreign care workers were living and doing shifts in a local care home.
The BBC claims some, if not all, of the migrants living in the house were part of an employment sham and breaking employment and immigration laws.
Olivia Lewis’ husband Tony went to live at Clinton House in 2012 and she was so concerned about his treatment at the hands of foreign workers that she slept on the floor of his room.
She told the camera she didn’t “trust them one bit” after a Romanian nurse gave her husband three times as much Warfarin as what he should have had.
Mrs Lewis said the dosage could have killed her husband.
The programme said foreign workers had been used to fill the gaps in Morleigh Group’s rota.
Former resident Beryl Charlesworth paid £650 a week for a room and was looked after by migrant care workers.
She said their poor English and lack of training meant they did not know how to empty her stoma bag.
She said they “didn’t give a damn” if she was dirty or clean.
Morleigh Group said foreign workers were trained to a high standard.
But the BBC filmed Ucruitment at a job fair in Athens where job seekers did not require any kind of care experience or training.
Ana Maros, who was one of at least six Croatians who worked for the Morleigh Group, was told she must set up as self-employed to work in the UK.
Croatia is a new member of the EU and self-employment is one of the only ways Croatians can legally work in the UK.
Ucruitment advised workers they could declare as self-employed to work legally and apply for an National Insurance number in around three months’ time.
But Ana said this had not been possible and she had failed to pay any tax when she was working in England.
She also told the camera she had been given only 15 minutes of training on how to use a hoist and advised to get public liability insurance while working to cover her, but she never did.
Ana said she had asked Mrs Juleff for advice, but had been told to go to the agency as she did not employ them.
The programme also claimed Mrs Juleff sent hundreds of texts to foreign workers threatening that they would be sent back if they did not do as she asked.
Employment lawyer Jacqueline McGuigan said there was clear evidence of a self-employment sham.
She said: “If they were genuinely self-employed they would not be working for one care home.”
She said the care home “would be saving tens of thousands in tax and national insurance, holiday and sick pay, training”.
She added that if the employer knew they were employing illegal workers they could be sent to jail for up to five years and fined.
Ucruitment said all self-employed contractors, including workers from Croatia were legitimately self-employed and were fully compliant with all UK employment and immigration laws.
Mrs Juleff denies any wrong doing. She said: “Ucruitment were engaged to ensure that the said workers had the right to live and work in the UK.”
The Morleigh Group homes new owners, Cornwallis Care Services, said they were aware Croatians had no rights to work and had halted their services.
The BBC said the CQC had been told about the possibility of illegal workers by a Croatian and had passed the information onto the Home Office but found no evidence.
Cornwall Council said it had no legal duty to check the employment rights of care staff.
MP for St Austell Steve Double said it was time for the CQC to have more power and teeth to intervene.
- 12th April 2017 10:02
- I live on this estate, walking by this house almost daily, and find it a little worrying that you´re happy to photograph the house from this angle - clearly showing the street name.
There are real people inside that house, and granted what the Care Group has done is incredibly wrong (if not training people correctly and allowing them to carry out medical activities incorrectly) - but you´re potential putting people at risk (and possibly other people on that road), and we all know how the country feels about ´foreigners´ at the moment.