A cross-party alliance of more than 80 organisations are calling for £3.9bn in funding to support the care sector through the second wave.
The Future Social Care Coalition, made up of former health and care ministers, including Andy Burnham (pictured) – the Mayor of Greater Manchester – and organisations such as the National Care Association, Age UK and Unison, says the funding package would guarantee a significant wage boost to all social care employees in England.
In a letter to Rishi Sunak, the group said COVID-19 has magnified problems that have existed in the sector for years and emphasises the urgent need for government intervention, making it clear this issue must no longer be ignored.
Workers on the “forgotten frontline” are existing on poverty wages and zero-hours contracts, and job vacancies are causing huge problems for employers, the Coalition adds.
A substantial increase in resources for the care sector is needed now, along with a long-term solution guaranteeing “affordable, quality care for everyone that needs it now and in the future”, says the letter.
The letter also urges the Chancellor to find the resources to bring about change in social care. This would allow the sector to begin to treated with the same respect as the NHS, and develop a comprehensive workforce strategy with better training and rates of pay.
Coalition advisory board co-chair and UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Care has long been the forgotten service. The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the sector’s faults like nothing else.
“Its problems cannot be ignored for a moment longer. This unprecedented alliance brings together employers, politicians and the biggest care union to make a powerful case for change. Now the government needs to listen and start to take the care crisis more seriously.
“Care needs urgent and lasting reform. Paying dedicated staff who look after our elderly and vulnerable relatives a proper wage would start to transform care into a service fit for the future.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We know there is a need for a long-term solution for social care and are looking at a range of proposals as part of our commitment to bringing forward a plan that puts the sector on a sustainable footing for the future.
“As part of our pandemic response we have given £4.6 billion to councils in England so they can address pressures on local services caused by the pandemic, including in adult social care. Future funding for adult social care will be set out at the Spending Review.”
Charity director at Age UK and co-chair of the Care and Support Alliance, Caroline Abrahams, said: “Care workers have been the invisible heroes throughout the pandemic. 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 coronavirus crisis has demonstrated the need for strengthening the workforce. Social care is a people business and it’s impossible to deliver good care without enough committed, well-trained workers.
“The government must now do everything possible to help care workers at this very stressful time. That includes paying them a decent wage.”