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A new report estimates social care workers are paid significantly less than other public sector workers with equivalent skills, something that may be driving recruitment problems.
Frontline social care workers are being paid an average of £7,000 a year less than other other public sector workers with equivalent skills, according to a new report which says low pay is driving the recruitment crisis in the sector.
The report from the charity Community Integrated Care, which claims to be the first independent analysis of the frontline support worker role, calls for an “immediate and fair” pay rise to address a status quo that is “immoral” and that “cannot be justified”.
Consultancy firm Korn Ferry, which carried out the analysis, said support workers who help people live independently in the community are paid an average of £17,695 or £9.05 per hour, 45p per hour below the Real Living Wage – compared to other public sector roles with similar scope, complexity and accountability, which pay £24,602 on average, or equivalent NHS roles which pay an average of £25,142. It says many social care workers would need a 42% pay rise, an additional £7,447, to have parity with their NHS peers.
The analysis demonstrates that the role of social care workers has changed beyond recognition in the past decade, as the sector increasingly supports people with highly complex health and care needs, for instance, those with dementia. It also charts the impact of constant staff turnover on quality of care.
It shows that support workers frequently have the same or a greater level of skill and accountability as professions such as healthcare assistants, police community support officers, and senior teaching assistants.
However, those who fund social care, including local authorities, are at financial breaking point and cannot deliver increased pay without greater investment and progressive reform from central government, says the report.
It adds that the huge pay discrepancy leaves many social care workers living in poverty, and is the driving factor behind the sector’s huge number of unfilled vacancies, which currently stands at 112,000.
It calls on the Government to give an ‘immediate and fair’ pay rise to all frontline social care workers. It also calls on the Government to urgently prioritise implementing a social care workforce strategy, which sees all roles being benchmarked to have parity of pay with other public funded sectors. And it says there needs to be more focus on creating routes to career progression, the introduction of professional registration, campaigns to raise the esteem of the sector, a focus on diversity and inclusion, investment in mental health support and reward and recognition strategies.