Most social workers complain of low pay and poor training

Around three quarters of social workers regularly work more
hours than they are paid for and believe they are inadequately
trained for their job, according to Unison’s submissions to
the Local Government Pay Commission, writes Clare

Three surveys carried out by the public sector union in March to
support its submissions reveal that more than 80 per cent of social
workers, senior care workers, home care workers and residential
care assistants and three quarters of residential social workers
believe their rate of pay is unfair.

Unison’s head of local government Heather Wakefield said:
“They are all underpaid, they are all undervalued, there are
massive recruitment and retention problems, yet they are all key to
delivering critical parts of the government’s

The survey of social workers finds that three quarters believe
their job has become more difficult since New Labour came into
office, and three in 10 expect to be with a new employer within two

Higher basic pay levels and an end to unequal pay –
requested by 83 and 50 per cent of the 400 respondents respectively
– are the main issues social workers want to stress to the
commission, with almost two thirds arguing that pay discourages
people from joining the profession.

Unison believes the most distressing part of the submission is
the survey of home care assistants. Their role has shifted
significantly from delivering low level domestic functions towards
providing personal and nursing care, but this has not been
reflected in their pay.

More than two thirds of home care workers said their employers
do not understand the needs and demands of the jobs, and split
shifts and irregular rotas are commonplace.

Wakefield predicts a crisis in future years if this issue is not
addressed shortly, as staff are lured to retail or service sector
jobs, offering better pay and less stress.

Residential care workers share the view that employers have no
idea about the exacting demands of their work. Four in five
residential social workers have experienced violence or abuse in
the past year.

Both home care workers and residential staff want higher basic
pay and better unsociable hours allowances. Home care workers are
also calling for their job title to be changed to reflect their

The commission, which was set up as part of the pay settlement
between employers and unions last September, will now consider
evidence and report in September this year. 

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