A ROW was sparked over care homes for the elderly as plans for a new £5m ‘care village’ in Kirkcaldy was given the go-ahead.
Councillor Peter Grant, SNP leader, accused Labour of selling out on a manifesto promise on jobs and training.
He claimed staff wages and skills were being driven down to make way for the new state-of-the-art facility in Ostler’s Way.
Instead of one large 60-bed building, councillors heard that several small 12-bed or 15-bed units are planned.
The home, which will also offer day care, will replace Fife Council’s two existing homes in the town at Appin Crescent and Raith Gates.
On Tuesday a Labour motion was passed by the Council’s executive committee leading the way for the new development and a range of options for replacing Fife’s eight other homes.
Mr Grant said: “We’d all love to see new care homes being built but Labour are selling out on their manifesto promises in order to do it.
‘‘They’re proposing to close two homes and move the residents to another home where there will be fewer staff and the ones who are there will often be working for far less money.”
The new home will employ less social care workers than Appin House and Raith Gates, with many being replaced by care assistants whose pay is three grades lower.
The reduced staff bill will generate annual savings of around £450,000.
But in response, Alex Rowley, Council leader, said: “This is not about driving down wages, far from it.
‘‘There will be economies of scale and that’s one of the ways we are able to proceed.
‘‘The objective we have had from day one is to start a programme of replacing our homes and that is what is being brought forward. I’m quite dismayed at some of the comments that have been made.”
State of art care
Councillor Judy Hamilton, who led the motion, said: “It is about investing in a brand new state of the art care model.
‘‘ The vision here is to create safe and sustainable care homes of high quality but with a holistic approach to low level care through sheltered and very sheltered housing, day care, respite care and activities.”
She added: “This is a good news story for Fife.”