The CEO of Care England has urged the government to give social care equal priority to the NHS ahead of the 2020 Budget.
Professor Martin Green said the Conservatives must recognise that social care is “intrinsically linked” with the NHS and fund both sectors equally in order to reward the workforce with “good and fair” wages.
“We need to have parity of esteem between the NHS and social care. In terms of workforce, this means better pay. The latest NHS pay deal entitled ‘Agenda For Change’ only serves to further emphasise the lack of parity in the funds allocated the health and social care sectors respectively,” said Green.
“Social care providers simply do not have the funding to match such increases given the chronic underfunding which persists in the sector. Good and fair wages remain a lynchpin in the future sustainability of the adult social care sector. It is incumbent upon government to ensure that such increases in the National Minimum and Living Wage are reflected in the fees paid to care providers who are supporting some of society’s most vulnerable people.”
Staff costs account on average for about half of total running costs for adult social care providers. Increases in the National Living Wage (NLW), although welcomed by providers as a means to reward their hard working staff, have at times exacerbated the workforce crisis that currently persists in the adult social care sector.
A recent report by the Low Pay Commission found that increases in the NLW above inflation have led to a rise in failed social care businesses, a reduction in care quality and insecure working conditions across the sector.
The NLW will rise by 6.2% to £8.72 per hour in April, whilst the National Minimum Wage for younger workers aged 21-24 will increase 6.5% from £7.70 to £8.20 per hour.
Furthermore, the Chancellor Sajid Javid said he will seek to expand the reach of the NLW to cover workers aged 23 and over from April 2021 and to those aged 21 and over within five years.
Green continued: “The Prime Minister has been vocal in his support for finding a long term sustainable solution for adult social care. Care England is keen to help breach the necessary consensus to pave the way for such essential action.
“The first step is the recognition that social care is intrinsically linked with the NHS; the main input in the delivery of adult social care services is labour yet the failure of successive governments to fund appropriately the increases to the National Living Wage has impinged upon social care providers’ ability to reward their most valuable resource; the workforce”.
The government has announced the date of the 2020 Budget as March 11.