A major report has found that many frontline social care workers are undervalued by as much as 39%, or nearly £7,000 per year, in comparison with their peers in equivalent positions in public funded sectors.
Community Integrated Care’s Unfair to Care report found the average pay for support workers in England who assist people to live independently in the community was £17,695, or £9.05 per hour – 45p below the Real Living Wage.
Korn Ferry, the global experts in job role evaluations, found that roles with equivalent scope, complexity and accountability within other public funded sectors are, on average, paid £24,602.
The report highlights how the role of social care workers has changed beyond recognition in the past decade as the sector increasingly supports people with highly complex health and care needs.
With frontline colleagues commonly supporting and understanding complex medical and behavioural needs – from dementia to acquired brain injuries, having innate and rare personal gifts, and taking an exceptional level of personal accountability, the position was found to be significantly undervalued.
The report calls on government to give an immediate and fair pay rise to all frontline social care workers and urgently prioritise a social care workforce strategy, which sees all roles being benchmarked to have parity of pay with other public funded sectors.
Mark Adams, CEO of Community Integrated Care, said: “The moral case for investment in social care and its workforce has, sadly, been ignored for years. This research now provides cold hard facts, which surely cannot be ignored by the Government. Our research proves that in other related sectors, many frontline support workers would be getting paid at least £6,907 more per year, and almost £7,500 within the NHS. This is immoral, illogical and cannot be justified.”
Oonagh Smyth, CEO of Skills for Care, said: “Community Integrated Care have brought together a wide range of data and thinking, including from our Adult Social Care Workforce Data Set, to make the clear case that our 1.5 million workforce are highly skilled professionals, who deserve to be recognised as such as we enter a period of promised reform.”
Rachel Harrison, GMB National Officer, commented: “Care workers need a proper living wage for the amazing work they do – and proper professionalisation of the service. We need nothing less if we want a care system worthy of the name.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The social care sector has been an essential and valued part of the front line response to the pandemic. We have sought to protect the workforce and those receiving social care, providing over £2 billion for the sector, including infection prevention and control measures, free PPE and regular testing, and we prioritised staff for the vaccine.
“We are committed to the sustainable improvement of the adult social care system and, as set out in the Queen’s Speech, we will bring forward proposals later this year to ensure every person receives the care they need, provided with the dignity they deserve.”