The launch of the #TimeForAFairDeal campaign by the Future Social Care Coalition is a welcome development. There is no framework for pay within the social care sector and therefore nothing that providers can use in discussions with commissioners about the price that needs to be paid to employ and invest in the social care workforce for the long term. The current benchmark is the National Living Wage and today's news illustrates that is not always being paid. Even if it were, that is not the long term solution.
In our work, all too often we see providers who have taken on staff from the NHS with two sets of very different terms and conditions with former NHS staff being rewarded more generously because of TUPE protection than colleagues working alongside them doing the same role. This is because providers are not paid sufficiently by their commissioners to match those NHS terms. When commissioners retender it can be the cost of those more generous terms and conditions that mean a provider loses a contract on costs ground. As a result, the incentive for care providers is to achieve the opposite of pay parity with NHS staff and to reduce the terms and conditions of their former NHS staff. A cross-party consensus on the future of social care must include a framework for pay in the social care sector to help achieve parity of esteem between health and social care and commissioners must pay providers sufficiently well to pay their staff in accordance with that framework.
“Care workers have been the invisible heroes throughout the pandemic,” said Abrahams. “They’ve been on the frontline giving their all while looking after older and disabled people. Many have put their own health and financial worries to one side, and some have tragically even paid the ultimate price … The government must now do everything possible to help care workers at this very stressful time. That includes paying them a decent wage.”