Care workers pay boost isn’t just about saying thank you, it’s about levelling up
This week, as the nation takes its first tentative steps out of lockdown, older people living in care homes are connecting with loved ones in ways that haven’t been possible for the past year.
Care services have always been an essential part of our lives and our communities, yet for many people they existed in the background – until the pandemic struck. The impact of Covid-19 exposed gaping wounds in a system which is overlooked, underfunded and lacks coherent planning.
Behind those wounds are people: those receiving the care and those giving care.
We need to pay our care workforce at least the real living wage in order to support and appreciate the invaluable work that they do. Not only does this help with a national recruitment and retention plan for this critical workforce, it also means more money is spent in communities, benefiting the local and national economy.
MHA pays our staff the real living wage, but the social care funding system does not currently allow for the to be best practice across the sector.
Government and local authorities must agree a fair price for care that allows for increased pay for staff across the board, and a workforce strategy with better career qualifications, progression and opportunities; allowing those who choose this vital path to progress into other areas available within the sector.
With last week’s budget the Government missed a golden opportunity to address the situation and turn ‘clap for carers’ into a proper national plan for care, failing to recognise the incredible impact adult social care has every day, and has done prior to the pandemic.
For too long our nation’s care givers have been underpaid and undervalued for the life changing work they do. Working in social care requires compassion, knowledge, resilience, high emotional intelligence, creativity and lateral thinking. It is not a “low skilled” job.
It is a scandal that this 1.65 million workforce of unsung heroes are generally paid just the national minimum wage. It is not about a pat on the back, increased wages are about being able to live a life whereby a single parent isn’t forced to work two jobs to feed their family.
Social care contributes an estimated £43billion to the economy. It’s a significant employer in every community in the UK and a growth sector – as we live longer, our support needs will naturally increase and we should embrace this.
Investing in social care is an investment in every neighbourhood, as well as being an essential enabler for people to live full lives.
It should be viewed as an essential part of the Government’s aim to level up communities – so why isn’t it? The Government may have missed a chance in the Budget, but it’s not too late to build a truly sustainable plan for social care that we, as a nation, can be proud of.