Learning Disability Today
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Social care workers need 41% pay increase to match their NHS equivalents

Social care workers would need a 41% pay rise to achieve parity with their NHS equivalents, according to a new report that looks at the reasons behind the current workforce crisis in the care sector.

Unfair To Care – 2022/23, developed by Community Integrated Care, one of Britain’s biggest social care charities, in partnership with job evaluation specialists Korn Ferry, gives a detailed look at the reverberations that low pay and the recruitment crisis creates on care workers and people who draw on social care.

It found that at current government rates of investment, it will take 23 years – an entire generation – for social care support workers to receive equal pay for equal work.

It comes at a time when there is a 52% increase in vacancies this year with 80% of providers stating that contract income will not cover wages, presenting real future risk.

Government exploits the goodwill of people who have a vocation for care

Teresa Exelby, Chief People Officer at Community Integrated Care, says: “This current system serves no one. It is entirely wrong that this sector has 165,000 vacancies on any given day – significantly impacting the quality of life of people who should, rightly, expect reliable support built upon consistent relationships. The social care sector has real headroom to be an even greater force for good – changing lives at scale, offering greater efficiencies for public spending, and investing in local communities, but without a stable workforce, we are unable to seize this initiative.

“Change is possible, and it must come now. We understand that many sectors and industries – including the NHS – are calling for fair pay and this report does not seek to curtail or diminish their progress, but rather simply advocates for parity across these parallel sectors. 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.”

The 2022-23 edition of Unfair To Care reveals that social care workers should have have parity with their direct equivalents within the NHS – Band 3 Healthcare Assistants. This demonstrates that modern frontline social care requires complex technical and emotional skills, to effectively support people who commonly have complex medical and behavioural needs, proving that social care is significantly undervalued.

Despite the lack of government action, Unfair To Care finds significant public concern around this growing recruitment crisis in social care. In a new Ipsos survey, commissioned by Community Integrated Care, 85% of GB adults aged 16-75 said that shortages of social care workers is a problem for society in the UK, with 67% regarding it as a ‘major problem’.

There is also significant public recognition of the shared value of both social care and the NHS. Ipsos found that 91% of respondents think that social care is important to society, with 94% recognising the NHS in the same terms.

Phil Hope, Co-Chair of the Future Social Care Coalition, says: “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.”

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