‘Pennies’ separate pay between NVQ levels 2 and 3, survey reveals

The pay difference between care workers qualified to NVQ levels 2 and 3 is just “pennies”, according to early indications from a national survey of employers.

Findings from just under 2,000 returns to the national minimum data set for social care, co-ordinated by sector training body Skills for Care, also suggest that more senior social care assistants were qualified to level 2 rather than 3, which would be the closer skills match for the job.

Level 2 is targeted at care assistants and focuses on “hands-on” care level 3 is targeted at staff with some autonomy and responsibility.

Skills for Care chief executive Andrea Rowe (pictured left) told Community Care at the organisation’s annual conference in Nottingham last week that the limited number of returns meant the difference in pay between the two levels could only be explored after more returns were in.

But she said the early findings had already “exploded” myths. For instance, only 3 per cent of care workers who left their jobs in the past year went to work in the retail sector and the same proportion travelled in the opposite direction.

But the early findings appear to confirm that social care pay is highest in the public sector, followed by the voluntary sector, with the lowest pay awarded in the private sector.

Rowe said the complete data set would help social care argue for funding. “We know we are going to be in a better position to pull Gordon Brown’s levers.”

Meanwhile, the Department of Health’s director general for social care, David Behan, has launched a group to take forward the recommendations of the Options for Excellence social care workforce review, published last October.

National minimum data set

The data set is a questionnaire designed to ensure that every social care employer provides information on their workforce in a consistent format throughout England, with the aim of improving the distribution of funding and support to the sector. It was launched in 2005.

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Simeon Brody

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