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Social Care: Government urged to match words with actions

Hft, a national charity that supports adults with learning disabilities, is calling on Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond to match words with actions and provide an emergency cash injection for the social care sector in his Spring Statement, to help providers address the ongoing recruitment crisis in the sector.

Last month, the charity published its annual Sector Pulse Check, which provides a yearly snapshot of the financial health of the social care sector. The report warned that 80% of providers citing the ‘enforced low pay model’ – where local authorities commission fees at the lowest wage level possible – as the biggest challenge for recruiting new staff. As a result, 63% of providers reported increases in agency fee spend, and that it was now a major financial pressure (a fifty percentage-point increase from the 2017/18 survey).

Robert Longley-Cook

Robert Longley-Cook, Chief Executive of Hft, commented:

“The government was right to finally acknowledge that there is an ongoing recruitment crisis plaguing the social care sector. We welcome the fact that the government is highlighting that a career in social care can be a varied and fulfilling one.

“However, this does not solve the root of the problem. Cuts to local authority budgets, combined with an enforced low pay model of fee setting, have tied the hands of providers seeking to pay their staff a competitive wage. This has created a vicious circle of high staff turnover, leading to an increased dependency on agency staff, resulting in increased wage bills and disruption of quality and continuity of care.

“Increased use of agency staff is a short-term fix to a long-term problem. As providers spend more on filling their rotas, they are unable to invest in the long-term future of our services, despite providers seeing increased demand across the sector.

“The national recruitment campaign only looks to address the desirability of a career in social care. However, for as long as social care is on an enforced low pay model, we will be unable to attract the highly motivated staff we need to deliver high-quality, person-centred support. We, therefore, call on the Chancellor to match the government’s words with actions, and provide the sector with additional funding to help us invest in the future of services, and reward our hardworking staff for all that they do in supporting some of the most vulnerable adults in society.”

Since February 2016, Hft has run the It Doesn’t Add Up campaign to raise awareness of the funding pressures facing the social care sector. For more information, visit: www.hft.org.uk/shortfall