A hidden workforce. Adult Social Care employs around 1.65 million people in England. The overwhelming majority are women. In Shropshire, there are over 10,000 working in this sector, with 20% of them on zero hours contracts.
Heroes of the pandemic. This group of staff have shouldered much of the burden of the Covid-19 pandemic. Whether working in residential care homes or providing domiciliary care they have struggled to protect the most vulnerable in our community without the support they need and deserve from the government.
Left to cope alone. It is now clear that many had to manage without the necessary protective equipment especially in the early months of the pandemic. If unable to work through illness or following contact with those suffering from Covid-19 their wages were often cut.
High turnover and low pay. Turnover of staff is high. In Shropshire it is over 30% annually. Staff shortages, now at around 120,000 nationally, result in excessive workloads and increased stress and exhaustion. Pay levels are low with too few opportunities for career progression. According to a recent Parliamentary report care workers earned an average of £8.87 per hour last year.
Training and Development. The same House of Commons report said that in 2019/20, 50% of these workers had no recorded qualifications. The government is pledged to allocate extra resources for training but it is doubtful that this will be sufficient to make a real difference to development opportunities and quality of care.
A fair deal. As a minimum, care staff should be paid the Real Living Wage of £9.50 per hour and their terms and conditions of employment should be brought in line with those of their NHS colleagues. The TUC has recently suggested a sectoral basic rate of £10 per hour. The planned increase in National Insurance Contributions means that care staff will suffer a cut in take home pay from next April. It will also increase their employers’ wage bill and threaten their economic viability.
A failed plan. Overall, the government has failed to produce a realistic plan capable of delivering the adult social care that people need without imposing enormous financial costs on them or their families. The additional taxes required to fund a fully comprehensive national care service should be borne by those who can best afford to pay.
CARE SERVICES IN CRISIS.