Female Doctor Who Jodie Whittaker Backs MenCap Campaign to Avoid Multi-million Back Pay Bill Over to Minimum Wage Workers

The new actor portraying Dr Who, Jodie Whittaker, has waded into a highly charged and controversial debate about back pay for low-paid vulnerable care workers. A number of care organisations have been found to be unlawfully paying below minimum wage and the government has been seeking back pay. Ms Whittaker has sought to help the charities avoid their liabilities, backing a campaign for the taxpayer to foot the bill instead.

DisabledCriticisedMencap

This disabled worker had to use a food bank when MenCap paid him less than £3 an hour. Click for full size.

I have stayed out of the heated debate about the casting of a female Dr Who. Recasting a much loved character – even changing the colour of their cape – is often a controversial topic. Fans grow attached to characters who (being fictional) are defined solely by their brand and fictional attributes. Turning the entire Time Lord people into a race of transsexuals by retconning the possibility of regeneration into another biological sex was always a controversial proposition.

Recasting a male character as a female can however be successful – Starbuck in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica became a much loved character in her own right. Of course – she was only successful because of the talents of the actress, the extremely high quality of the reimagined show and its scripts. I decided to reserve judgement and review Whittaker’s Doctor on the show’s merits rather than on the controversy. Whether Whittaker will be a Galactican or a Ghostbuster should depend on her talent and the quality of the show as a whole.

Unfortunately, Jodie Whittaker has just earned her first black mark from me for her support for the highly controversial #StopSleepInCrisis campaign. I discovered the campaign reading an article linked by Mark Neary, a disability rights activist. Mark featured on the front of the Independent under the headline “right to love” after his successful legal claim to secure the release of his autistic, learning disabled son from care. The facts behind #StopSleepInCrisis is simple. According to a court ruling MenCap and other care providers have, for years, been paying on-call carers for the most vulnerable in our society less than the National Minimum Wage.

Some of those people have been themselves disabled (archive) and after the ruling the government began chasing the sector for £400,000,000 in back pay and penalities. Out of legal options, MenCap is seeking to use lobbying to avoid the bill. MenCap vigorously fought the legal cases – seeking to continue being able to pay below the minimum wage. Now it says that it will pay the minimum wage in future but wants the government to wave its fines (and those in the rest of the sector) and pay the remaining bill to reimburse those who were underpaid. Whittaker has come out in support of this controversial campaign.

Jodie Whittaker MenCap

Jodie Whittaker backs MenCap’s campaign to be excused paying millions in backpay to vulnerable workers. BBC star Whittaker is presumably not on the minimum wage. Via MenCap press release.

The success of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica was brilliant of course because it subverted modern norms. The show rested from the first episode on the premise that a lot of conservative thought was right. Another premise was the ancient but unfashionable premise that God is real and good and just (and that has terrifying consequence). The producers and cast however were reluctant to offer political comment outside of their art. Whittaker, before so much as her first TARDIS materialisation has chosen to participate in a controversial and by no means one sided debate.

There are some points on Whittaker and MenCap’s side of course. Making something more expensive (overnight care labour) means, according to the iron laws of supply and demand, that there will be less demand for it. Commissioners such as local authorities will be less able to pay for it so services will have to be reduced. On the other side however there can be few more sympathetic opponents than minimum wage care workers for the most vulnerable people in our society. And why should seriously disabled people have to put up with cut-price care? In the spirit of even handedness I link to a critical article about MenCap (archive) and the most recent MenCap press release (archive) on the topic.

My personal view is that Whittaker should not have backed this campaign. If you share those views, the BBC complaints page is here and the email for the Director General is Tony.Hall@bbc.co.uk. If you complain, please keep those complaints respectful and thoughtful. Please use your own wording, however as an example –

“[Your postal address]

Dear Mr Hall,

I am a BBC viewer and a long time Dr Who Fan. I am concerned and dismayed that Jodie Whittaker has recently backed the MenCap campaign to avoid paying back pay and penalties arising from its failure to pay the National Mininum Wage. I accept there are arguments on both sides but regret that before her first episode Ms Whittaker has had the misfortune to be associated with a campaign criticised by many people far less privileged than she.

I would like the BBC to consider these two articles –

Royal Mencap Utilize the Cult of Celebrity to Endorse Paying Employees Less Than £3 Per Hour

Female Doctor Who Jodie Whittaker Backs MenCap Campaign to Avoid Multi-million Back Pay Bill Over to Minimum Wage Workers

I ask the BBC to encourage Ms Whittaker to consider very carefully what political positions she chooses to support in future and I would like the BBC to consider apologising.

Kind regards,

[Name]”

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This entry was posted in BBC, Human Rights, Law, Mental Capacity, Mental Health, Samuel Collingwood Smith by Samuel Collingwood Smith. Bookmark the permalink.

About Samuel Collingwood Smith

Samuel Collingwood Smith was born in the north of England, but his family moved south early in his life and spent most of his early years in Welwyn Garden City before attending Queen Mary, University of London, where he studied Economics. Smith was employed as a Labour Party fundraiser in the 2001 General Election, and as a Labour Party Organiser in the 2005 General Election. In 2005 Smith was elected as a Borough Councillor for Haldens Ward on Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and served for 3 years until 2008. In 2009 Smith changed sides to the Conservative party citing division within Labour ranks, Labour broken promises and Conservative improvements to local services. In 2012 Smith started to study a Graduate Diploma in Law, passing in 2014. Smith then moved on to studying a Master's Degree in Law combined with an LPC, receiving an LL.M LPC (with Commendation) in January 2017. During his study, Smith assisted several individuals in high profile court cases as a McKenzie Friend - in one case being praised by Parliamentary petition for his charitable work and legal skills. Smith is also the author of this blog, Matthew Hopkins News, that deals with case law around Family and Mental Capacity issues. The blog also opposes online drama and abuse and criticises extreme-left politicians.

One thought on “Female Doctor Who Jodie Whittaker Backs MenCap Campaign to Avoid Multi-million Back Pay Bill Over to Minimum Wage Workers

  1. Hello, Thank you for raising this, I will e-mail the BBC as suggested – it’s almost political propaganda aimed at the younger people who will then become the next generation of employees. Brainwashing? Interesting….
    My contribution to your blog follows:-
    I worked for mencap for 13 years and worked many sleep ins.
    Re: SLEEP IN CASE. It’s fascinating reading the political spin and untruth’s that have been peddled about the case and the campaign. I, personally, will never believe what I read in the media again. I wonder how the argument for paying staff below the minimum wage was put to the unsuspecting celebrities in order to win their support?
    Seeing this campaign casting employees who exercise their legal right to challenge illegal pay practices as being selfish has been incredibly upsetting and made me very angry. More voices are needed to cutting through the lies and diversion tactics..
    If people with learning disabilities were being illegally paid, it would be mencap’s duty of care to stop this abusive practice, Why does this not appear to extend to their own staff? Sadly, many mencap staff don’t know employment law and have little choice but to believe what is being told to them by their employer. Mencap have said they want clarity – they have lost 2 tribunal cases in relation to this. How much clearer could it be?
    Government guidelines are SO specific that since at least 2015 they have included:-
    [Example 1 – where the minimum wage is likely to apply
    A person works in a care home and is required to work overnight shifts where they
    sleep on the premises. The person’s employer is required by statute to have someone
    on premises for health and safety purposes. The person would be disciplined if they left
    the premises at any stage during the night.
    It is likely that the person would be considered to be ‘working’ for the whole of the
    overnight shift even when they are sleeping.]

    Therefore, most sleep-ins are classed as ‘working time’ under the minimum wage law, (which HAS NOT changed since 2000 despite what mencap claim.) and staff should be paid the minimum wage accordingly.

    Mencap stated they ‘took the decision to pay hard working sleep in care staff (so they are working then?!) the NLW from 1/4/17’. What should have been said was that mencap could no longer attempt to justify non payment of the minimum wage for their staff,

    Mencap and all other providers have a responsibility to know employment law and ensure services are commissioned accordingly. Equally, local authorities and central government have that same responsibility. If services couldn’t be run without illegally paying staff, they shouldn’t be opened in the first place. Every tier of commissioning and funding was aware of this potentially illegal pay practice, and no one did a thing about it, probably because it would mean them all admitting not enough funding was being asked for/provided, and someone would have to eventually make up the short fall.
    In the mean time, some of the most hardworking, caring staff in the country have been treated appallingly and thoroughly taken advantage of, expected to do up to 30 hour shifts (which also breaches the Working Time Regulations) with no official breaks and the poorest pay in the industry.

    The reality for myself meant I picked up extra shifts to boost my low wages (in a job that I admit being devoted to). BUT looking back, this meant not being with my family and friends, some of whom are no longer with us, and I will never get that time back.

    Shame on you Mencap. Sort yourselves out and start acting like the charity that people with learning disabilities deserve.

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