Government carer recruitment drive is welcome… …but no substitute for proper reform

Govt carer recruitment drive is welcome…

…but no substitute for proper reform

A Government recruitment drive for adult social care is welcome but is merely an attempt to patch up the sector rather than tackle the underlying crisis, campaigners warned today.

The Department of Health and Social Care today launched its annual recruitment drive to encourage people into a career in social care.

Whilst welcoming the move, the care provider organisation, The Independent Care Group (ICG) warned it would not tackle the elephant in the room which is the poor pay of the social care workforce.

ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “Anything that helps us tackle the shortage in social care staff is welcome.

“But it won’t tackle the underlying cause of the 165,000 vacancies in social care, which is a shortage of funding that goes back more than 30 years.

“And it is disingenuous of the Government to lay the blame for poor staff pay at the feet of providers when its chronic and relentless under-funding of social care has made it impossible for those providers to afford to pay staff much above the National Living/Minimum Wage, however much they want to. They must be able to pay staff at least on a par with the NHS.

“The Government must address the poor pay of the social care workforce by reforming and properly funding the sector. It can start by injecting the minimum of £7bn extra a year into social care the Chancellor has previously said was needed.

“Then maybe we will be able to properly pay those working in social care and make it a profession people will want to join rather than going to work in a supermarket or online shopping warehouse.

“Efforts like this are sticking plasters when this, as William Beveridge said in 1942, is “a time for revolutions, not for patching”.

The ICG is concerned as the crisis in social care deepens and providers warn repeatedly that the sector is in danger.

A financial impact assessment, commissioned by members of the CQC Market Oversight Scheme, yesterday warned that care providers fear the sector is on the brink of collapse.

Mr Padgham added: “Here we see yet another terrifying report, from the Government’s own care watchdog, warning of the imminent collapse of the social care sector because of the dire financial state it is in.

“At the moment the sector is suffering death by a thousand cuts because it is seeing smaller care and nursing homes and home care providers closing and handing back contracts.

“But it can only be a matter of time before we see a big provider close with the same frightening impact the collapse of Southern Cross had back in 2011.

“Maybe then the Government will take some action. My fear is that they won’t and it will only be when the loss of social care provision brings hospitals to an absolute standstill that ministers will wake up to the crisis on their doorstep.”

The ICG says more than 30 years of neglect and under-funding has left social care on the brink of collapse, with Covid-19, chronic staff shortages and the cost-of-living crisis turning the situation critical. Care and nursing homes are closing and homecare providers are handing back undeliverable contracts.

At least 1.6m people are living without the care they need and there are 165,000 job vacancies in the sector.

It has written to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor calling upon them to give social care at least an extra £7bn a year.

The ICG has called for root and branch reform of the social care sector.

It has launched its Five Pillars of Social Care Reform, setting out what it believes are the actions required to save the sector.

The five pillars are:

  • Ring fence a percentage of GDP to be spent on providing social care to those who already receive it and the 1.6m who can’t get it
  • Create a unified National Care Service, incorporating health and social care
  • Set a National Minimum Wage per hour for care staff on a par with NHS
  • Set up an urgent social care task force to oversee reform
  • Fix a ‘fair price for care’ cost per bed and cost per homecare visit.