Social care staff need 41% pay rise to earn same as NHS counterparts – report

Social care staff need a “staggering” pay rise of 41% on average to earn the same amount as their NHS counterparts, research suggests.

It would take 23 years of current Government investment to bring support worker pay up to NHS level, according to a report by Community Integrated Care (CIC).

The charity commissioned the consulting firm Korn Ferry to analyse the support worker position compared to equivalent NHS and public sector roles.

It found that support workers are undervalued by 41% – more than £8,000 on average – compared to the total pay of their equivalents in the NHS – Band 3 healthcare assistants.

Support workers earn £19,573 on average, compared to the average total pay for an NHS Band 3 role – £27,609, which includes allowances and additional hours payments.

The gap rises to 64% when taking into account the total package, including entitlements such as sick pay and pension benefits.

And there is a 35% gap in earnings when compared to equivalents in the public sector such as local Government and not-for-profit roles.

The report, Unfair to Care 2022-2023, found that the pay gap between social care and the NHS has reduced by an average of 1.5% a year since the last general election.

Based on this rate, it would take 23 years for equal roles in social care and the NHS to be paid equally.

According to figures from the workforce body Skills for Care, vacancies rose by 52% in a year to a record 165,000 in 2021/22.

CIC said polling shows there is significant public concern about social care, with 85% of adults across Britain saying a shortage of staff is a problem for society.

Some two thirds (67%) regarded this as a “major problem”, according to the poll of 2,056 adults in November by Ipsos.

Some 61% of respondents believed that, where a person was doing a job that required equivalent skills, complexity and responsibilities, both social care and NHS workers should earn about the same in salary and benefits.

The report is calling on the Government to give an “immediate and fair” pay rise to all frontline social care workers.

Teresa Exelby (pictured), CIC chief people officer, said the current system “serves no-one”.

She said: “For too long, consecutive governments have exploited the goodwill of people who have a vocation for care, believing that their passion offsets an expectation for fair pay.

“Now, in the midst of an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis, it is clearer than ever that this position is as untenable as it is immoral.

“We are calling on the Government to invest in social care now, to apply NHS terms and conditions in this parallel sector.

“When delivered alongside other progressive reforms, it will be making its rhetoric of levelling up an absolute reality in the most profound of ways.”

Phil Hope, co-chairman of the Future Social Care Coalition – an alliance of more than 100 people and organisations, said: “Unfair To Care shows us that the recruitment and retention crisis in social care is here to stay for an entire generation unless the Government takes serious action to fix social care.

“Warm words about the rise in the living wage are simply not enough to retain staff.

“The current number of social care vacancies is simply staggering and will only continue to grow without a commitment to pay fair for care.

“Unfair To Care makes it clear that it is untenable to lurch from crisis to crisis, with just a sticking plaster to remedy the far deeper problems in social care.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “We are incredibly grateful to our social care workforce and recognise their extraordinary commitment.

“That’s why we prioritised social care in the autumn statement, providing up to £7.5billion over the next two years to support social care services and discharge which will helping local authorities address waiting lists, low fee rates, and workforce pressures in the sector.

“We have also launched our annual domestic recruitment campaign, Made With Care, to encourage people to take up a career in adult social care and are investing £15 million to increase international recruitment into the sector.”

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