Government accused of ‘sticking plaster’ approach as new campaign aims to fill social care vacancies

A recruitment drive to fill tens of thousands of vacancies in the social care sector has been launched by the Government for the second year in a row.

The Made With Care advertising campaign aims to persuade people to take up a “rewarding” role in adult social care, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.

Estimates from the workforce body Skills For Care put the number of social care vacancies in 2021/22 at 165,000.

The campaign will run until March across video on-demand platforms such as ITV Hub, Sky Go and All 4, radio and digital audio channels such as Spotify and social media and digital channels such as Facebook and Instagram.

Job seekers will be encouraged to visit to research a career in social care, search for and apply for roles and get advice on interviews and writing CVs.

But the Government has been accused of attempting to patch up the sector with a “sticking plaster” rather than solve workforce pressures by addressing low pay.

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Working in social care is rewarding, inspiring and provides career opportunities with a range of roles you may have never considered.

“To get started, you just need to have the right qualities including kindness and compassion to support people’s loved ones and make a difference.

“This government is committed to a sustainable social care sector and anyone can play a part by joining this incredible workforce.”

According to a report from Skills For Care earlier this year, staff vacancies rose by 52% to 165,000 unfilled posts in 2021/22 – the largest annual increase since records began in 2012/13.

The number of filled posts fell – by about 50,000 – for the first time on record, it found.

Its chief executive Oonagh Smyth said the report highlighted the recruitment and retention challenges facing the sector.

She said: “We need to talk more about the rewarding and fulfilling career that adult social care can offer, and we hope the Made With Care campaign will raise awareness of the value and variety of a career in care and the important contribution that the 1.5 million people currently working in adult social care are making to our communities.”

The Independent Care Group, which represents providers in York and North Yorkshire, welcomed a recruitment drive but said it is “merely an attempt to patch up the sector rather than tackle the underlying crisis”.

Chairman Mike Padgham said the drive will “not tackle the elephant in the room” of poor pay.

He said: “The Government must address the poor pay of the social care workforce by reforming and properly funding the sector.

“It can start by injecting the minimum of £7 billion extra a year into social care the Chancellor has previously said was needed.

“Then maybe we will be able to properly pay those working in social care and make it a profession people will want to join rather than going to work in a supermarket or online shopping warehouse.

“Efforts like this are sticking plasters when this, as William Beveridge said in 1942, is ‘a time for revolutions, not for patching’.”

Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, said: “There is a desperate need to recruit and retain a significant number of staff in social care, and I hope that this campaign will encourage people to think about careers in our sector.”

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