Mark Adams is the CEO of national social care charity, Community Integrated Care. It supports over 2,500 people and employs over 5,000 colleagues across England and Scotland.
The crucial role of social care has never been more visible, yet it remains one of the lowest paying industries in society. The sector has championed the moral cause for fair pay for decades. Community Integrated Care recognised that the fight for fair pay needed more than strong words, it needed analysis, data and proof.
These factors led our charity to commission Korn Ferry – the world’s leading experts in job evaluations – to independently assess the role of frontline Support Workers. The resulting analysis, published in our Unfair to Care Report earlier this year, was game changing.
It found that based upon the complexity, responsibility, skill and demands of the role, many Support Workers would be paid significantly higher – up to 39% or £7000 – if they delivered the same calibre of role within the public sector.
Far from being ‘low-skilled’, as previously suggested by the Government, social care workers were proved to utilise a wide range of competencies. It found that in our highly regulated sector, where colleagues frequently support people who have complex needs, many take on an exceptional level of personal accountability. But their rates of pay do not reflect this.
Our Unfair to Care report calls for the Government to provide an immediate and fair pay rise to all frontline social care workers. It also demands the implementation of a social care workforce strategy, in which all roles should be benchmarked in order to ensure pay is on a par with other public funded sectors. This needs to sit alongside professionalisation of the sector, making social care a respected and sustainable career choice.
Yet when the Government announced their social care reform announcement in September, neither of these asks were addressed.
The Government focussed on the recognisable, understood and politically positive aspects of the social care crisis, reducing the cost of care for older people, but failed to recognise the millions of family carers, disabled people and social care workers left behind. Their proposals don’t provide the radical workforce reform that’s required to give this sector a fair deal.
Our social care colleagues desperately deserve fairer pay. As a charity, we knew we needed to address the impact of this crisis and take whatever action we could ourselves. Which is why we’ve recently unveiled a landmark £5 million investment in employee pay, reward and wellbeing, including a 9% pay-rise for our frontline care workers, taking them to £9.70 in England and £10.20 in Scotland.
This uplift in pay has meant sacrifices in other aspects of our charity and has curtailed other important areas of investment. The funding for social care simply does not allow investment in all areas of an organisation and requires constant difficult decisions for providers.
Of course, we’re proud to be making such enormous strides towards creating a better career for people working in care. Through years of hard work, innovation and focus from colleagues at all levels of our charity, we have built strong foundations that have enabled us to make this unprecedented uplift. Despite now offering market-leading rates of pay for the social care sector, we’re still significantly behind most of our competitor sectors and achieving the pay value demonstrated in Unfair to Care.
Our charity, and every care provider, has untapped potential and colleagues working in social care deserve further investment. This can only be realised through central government commitment to better investment and an effective workforce strategy for the sector. Social care is experiencing an unprecedented funding and recruitment crisis, and successes like our investment in pay must not mask the clear threat that many providers are facing or the constraints that all organisations are operating within.
You can read Community Integrated Care’s Unfair to Care Report at www.UnfairToCare.co.uk