Lack of investment in social care workforce pay ‘another act of treachery’ towards sector

A lack of investment into social care worker pay, while NHS workers have been promised a rise, has been described by a care group as “another act of treachery” towards the sector.

The National Care Association said a recently announced increase for NHS staff is “great news for our colleagues” but will increase the pay gap between NHS and social care workers.

Earlier this week, the Government said more than one million NHS staff – including nurses, paramedics and midwives – will receive a pay rise of at least £1,400 with lowest earners to receive up to 9.3%.

The membership body for care groups said it was “another act of treachery” from the “dying embers of a failing reign”.

Executive chairwoman Nadra Ahmed (pictured) said: “Widening the gap between health and social care pay is beyond the comprehension of any professional in our field.

“We are delighted for our colleagues in the NHS and public services, but to completely ignore the evidence submitted in relation to social care funding is negligent.

“How is social care being fixed when we continue to see investment only in the NHS despite a call, only yesterday, from the annual survey by the Association of Directors of Social Services for sustainable investment in social care as there are concerns that the current increase in needs will lead to greater pressures.”

The Government has said social care staff will benefit from £500 million from the health and social care levy to improve recruitment, retention, progression, and staff wellbeing, but care groups have been calling for a greater share.

It has also made care workers eligible for the Health and Care visa, added them to the Shortage Occupation List and launched a national recruitment campaign last autumn.

Ms Ahmed said whoever leads the country going forward has a “clear opportunity” to “deliver on the broken promises of successive governments”.

“Our workforce deserves to be acknowledged, valued, and recompensed for their tireless commitment,” she added.

The Voluntary Organisations Disability (VODG) said there will be “far-reaching” consequences if social care staff are not fairly rewarded.

The group, which represents more than 130 voluntary sector providers of disability services, said charities require the Government to meet growing inflationary costs with additional grant funding for local authorities.

Chief executive Dr Rhidian Hughes said: “Social care is on the brink and despite government’s attempt to reform the system, we are still a long way off from recognising the contribution the social care workforce makes to society each and every day.

“Yesterday’s announcement is problematic because pay uplifts are below inflation and VODG stands alongside colleagues in the NHS and other services in calling for a fairer package.

“However, it is important that social care workers are not left behind. The rising costs of living are placing enormous pressures on essential social care workers and charities are struggling to secure funding from local authorities to raise care worker pay.”

He said a greater share of the national insurance levy must be made immediately available to help the social care workforce.

The Independent Care Group, which represents providers in York and North Yorkshire, warned the NHS pay rise would heap more pressure on social care recruitment.

Chairman Mike Padgham said this issue has not been helped by the “well intentioned” Government recruitment campaign because it failed to address the elephant in the room – pay.

He said: “Social care already cannot match the pay offered by the NHS and yesterday’s £1,400 pay rise for those workers, though very, very well deserved, will widen that gap even further, making it even harder for social care providers to recruit.

“Local authorities who commission care, themselves strapped for cash after years of austerity, cannot pay providers a true price for the care that is provided, making it impossible for those providers in turn to pay staff properly and in line with their NHS counterparts.

“They deserve so much better. Little wonder that those going into the care sector go to the NHS when social care cannot compete.”

A Government spokesperson said: “Our social care workforce is valued, appreciated and supported, which is why we are providing an additional £500 million for training to boost career opportunities.

“Most paid carers are employed by the private sector who set their pay and conditions independently.

“The Government has raised the national living wage, is working to reduce vacancies and is making record investments in adult social care including through the Health and Care Levy.”

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