Pay care workers more to prevent social care crisis, Committee urges govt

The government has been urged to improve pay and conditions for care workers to prevent a crisis in social care, as new statistics show that around half of care workers drop out of work in the first year.

31 Mar 2017

Workers in the field can expect low pay, poor career prospects, and inadequate training, leading 47.8% of care workers and 35.9% of social care nurses to leave the profession within the first year of starting, the Committee reported.

This leaves the industry with high vacancy and turnover rates, contributing to the overall problems caused by inadequate funding of the sector, and the propensity of councils to prioritise cost over quality when commissioning social care providers.

Fewer than one in twelve Directors of Social Care are fully confident they can meet their statutory duties in 2017-18, the Committee’s inquiry found, with care being provided to fewer people and the standard of service falling to the bare minimum of what a person needs to get through the day.

This deterioration in the level of service provided to people in need is likely to continue unless the government acts quickly, the report stated.

Committee Chair Clive Betts, said: “During our inquiry we heard mounting concerns about the serious impact which inadequate funding is having both on the quality and on the level of care which people receive. We heard compelling evidence of acute threats to care providers’ financial viability and an increasing reliance on unpaid carers. It is clear there are also severe challenges in the care workforce, with high vacancy and turnover rates, and low pay, poor employment terms and conditions, lack of training and inadequate career opportunities the norm across the sector.”

Care workers need better pay, fairer terms and conditions, and a career structure that allows people to progress, the report stated.

It urged the government to draw from Unison’s Ethical Care Charter to set out reasonable standards for the wages care workers should expect to receive, as well as their terms, conditions, training and career development prospects.

It also proposed mandating that councils check that providers are following employment law, including paying the National Minimum Wage, and compensating workers for travel time, travel costs and ‘sleep ins’.

Unison General Secretary, Dave Prentis, welcomed the recommendations, saying care workers are “struggling to get by on unacceptably low wages with many not even paid for the time spent travelling to care appointments.

“It’s good MPs have recognized Unison’s ongoing campaign to get all councils to reward care workers fairly.

“We’d now urge the government to act, otherwise the crisis in social care will overshadow everyone’s lives.”