Social work staff register high levels of discontent with pay and status

About three-quarters of social workers regularly work more hours
than they are paid for, and believe they are inadequately trained
for their job the Local Government Pay Commission heard this

Three surveys carried out by public sector union Unison in March
to support its submissions to the commission 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 agenda.”

The survey of social workers finds that three-quarters believe
their job has become more difficult since 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. Although their role has shifted
significantly from delivering low-level domestic functions towards
providing personal and nursing care, this has not been reflected in
their pay.

More than two-thirds of home care workers say their employers
don’t understand the needs and demands of the job, and split
shifts and irregular rotas are commonplace.

Wakefield predicts a crisis 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.

Home care workers and residential staff are seeking 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.

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