Sunday, 14 April 2024
Sunday, 14 April 2024

Underpaid and Undervalued: Challenges in UK Adult Social Care Sector

THE adult social care sector employs 1.52 million people in England, a workforce larger than that of the entire NHS so it is shocking that the sector’s workers are paid nearly £8,000 a year less than their direct NHS equivalents.

In response to Community Integrated Care’s Unfair to Care report, launched recently, Steve Veevers, CEO of learning disability charity Hft, explains that the staggering 152,000 unfilled posts across England and a vacancy rate three times the average for other sectors fails to give the full picture of a complicated recruitment and retention situation in adult social care.

Steve said:

“Hft’s Sector Pulse Check report, produced in partnership with Care England, shows that 2022/23 saw a turnover rate of 28.3% and a vacancy rate of 9.9%, only a slight improvement in 2021/22.

“Despite the importance of their work, staff in adult social care roles are among the lowest-paid workers in the entire economy. That, together with poor perceptions of social care as a career, reflects a widespread sense within the sector that it does not enjoy parity of esteem with the NHS and is not afforded the same level of respect from the government or across wider society.

“However, the fact that our workforce accounts for 5.3% of the nation’s economically active population means that the ‘social care vote’ is set to have a defining voice in this year’s general election.

“As the Unfair to Care report states, 77% of MPs believe that the current rate of average pay for social care workers is unfair. With more than half of the population – 53% of people – stating that they will have a more favourable view of political parties that address the issues of low pay, the report argues that we are arriving at a moment where the public and politicians are increasingly aligned in the importance of addressing the challenges faced by care.

“The adult social care sector is very much regarded as an after-thought so we are calling for parity with the NHS, particularly in terms of pay, conditions and career progression. There should also be a clear recognition of how adult social care complements and enables the NHS to succeed.”

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