Higher minimum wage ‘would help tackle social care crisis’

A carers’ minimum wage should be introduced where social care workers would be paid at least £2 an hour more than the current minimum wage.
August 07, 2023

The Liberal Democrats have said that care workers’ pay needed to be brought up to at least £11.50 with immediate effect and be set at £12.42 from April 2024.

The new policy is a response to a sharp rise in the number of patients remaining in hospitals awaiting social care packages  despite being medically fit to leave.

Analysis by the House of Commons Library, commissioned by the Lib Dems, found that in the week beginning 21 May more than 128,000 bed days were lost to delayed discharges. In the equivalent week last year there were just under 97,000.

Against a backdrop of 160,000 vacancies in the sector, Sir Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat leader, warned that a social care “avalanche” threatened to bury the NHS unless action was taken.

In a speech to the Local Government Association conference today, Davey is set to say: “Social care has been under extreme pressure for years. Now it’s turning into an avalanche and threatening to bury the NHS.

“We know the crisis in the NHS is inextricably linked to the crisis in social care. You can’t fix the NHS without fixing social care. The crisis in social care means that only two in five people are able to leave hospital when they are ready to do so, putting even more pressure on already overstretched hospitals. It’s all connected. And it’s all causing so much pain and distress.

“That’s why the Liberal Democrats are calling for a new carers’ minimum wage. A big idea, to start to solve the crisis in social care, and help to solve the crisis in our NHS too.”

This week Professor Sir Stephen Powis, the national medical director of NHS England, said high bed occupancy rates made it “hard to get patients who are waiting in the emergency department into beds in the wards”.

His warning came after health leaders said action on social care was vital, with a letter to Rishi Sunak organised by the NHS Confederation calling for a workforce plan for the sector.

The letter, which expressed support for the NHS Workforce Plan, said the confederation wished “to stress our clear concern that an equivalent plan is not under consideration for the social care workforce in England whose contribution is equally important. We urge you on behalf of NHS leaders across the country to intervene to ensure that a similar exercise is now commissioned for this vital workforce.”

Davey said there were “not nearly enough carers”, with more than a tenth of frontline care jobs unfilled, leaving millions without the care they need.

He called for further recruitment, but warned: “We won’t do it while carers earn less than even the lowest-paid jobs in supermarkets and call centres. We won’t do it unless the government starts valuing carers properly, and makes sure they are paid properly too.”

The Lib Dem leader, whose teenage son has a neurological condition that means he needs 24/7 care, has previously described how he has witnessed the value of care work first-hand.

Original Article: Personnel Today

Higher wages can boost the morale of social care workers, leading to a more positive and supportive work environment. For all your recruitment challenges – contact our HR & digital recruitment specialist Gareth Allison on 02920 620702

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