Employers want more pay for social workers ‘if resources are available’

Social workers’ pay should be the first to be boosted in local
government, according to the employers’ submission to the Local
Government Pay Commission last week.

While public sector unions prioritised low pay and equal pay as key
issues to be addressed (news, page 6, 24 April), employers believe
they can fill most of their vacancies at current pay rates.

“If resources were available, our priorities would be to enhance
the pay of middle managers and specialists – such as social workers
– who are usually the most difficult to attract and retain,” the
Employers’ Organisation said.

But to respond to lower pay directly by “bottom-loading pay
increases” or increasing the pay of the lowest paid staff,
including home care workers, would be too costly and would destroy
competitiveness, the employers warned.

A spokesperson from public sector union Unison said: “With the
increasing privatisation of home care services, and driving down of
wages and conditions, it is legitimate to ask how long it will be
before home care services become unviable because of the
recruitment issues.

“We would like to see social workers and home care workers be the
winners of any decision by local authorities to spend more on their
workforce,” the spokesperson added.

The submission suggests introducing “skills escalators” to enable
front-line staff who wish to progress to train for work at a higher
level, and advocates the redesign of many front-line jobs to
increase productivity, which could in turn increase pay

It also calls for appropriate pay rates for trainees to increase
the number of young people joining the workforce and for the
commission to focus on the overall employment package for local
government workers, including training, leave, and flexible

Strikes should have no place in local government and should be made
unnecessary by more effective bargaining and arbitration, it adds,
calling for local bargaining and flexibility to be retained and

But public sector union Unison branded the submission “dangerous
and dated”, warning that it doomed women – who make up 75 per cent
of the workforce and form the largest group of low paid workers –
to even lower pay. The union said women would be big losers in any
move to local bargaining, as employers “pegged” their jobs to
market rates.

– This week’s Community Care web question asks: Do
you agree with the Employers’ Organisation that increasing the pay
of managers and specialists and not non-professional staff is the
best way to resolve the recruitment crisis in local

To vote in the online poll go to www.communitycare.co.uk

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