Pay body rejects minimum rate for low paid social care staff

Calls by unions for a minimum rate of £6.50 an hour for
public sector workers, including home care staff, have been
rejected by the Local Government Pay Commission, writes
Sally Gillen.

In a report released this week, the commission said that despite
the problems with attracting staff into some jobs at the bottom of
the pay scale in certain parts of the country, “these were
not pervasive enough to justify a general uprating of the minimum
rate of pay”.

The Local Government Pay Commission, which was set up last year
to look into pay and related issues following national strikes by
public sector workers after a 3 per cent pay rise, acknowledged
that pay is a “significant” factor in recruiting and
retaining social workers.

But it said that negative media coverage has been among the
factors leading to a poor image, which is also an important factor
in recruitment problems.

The lack of money available in social care compared with the NHS
is “undermining the relative attractiveness of employment in
local government”, it explained.

It highlighted problems created by the closer working of social
care and health professionals, saying that the deal laid out in the
NHS’s workforce strategy ‘Agenda for Change’ has led to
“discontent” among local government workers.

The failure by representative bodies to develop career pathways
is also criticised within the report. The national campaign to
recruit social workers is welcome, but has not addressed the more
profound issue of a career ladder within the profession.

Proposals for performance-related pay were rejected because of
the problems inherent in measuring productivity in certain types of
work such as care work.

Instead the report suggests giving pay rises on the basis of
progression in terms of skills, qualifications or competencies.

Unions and employers, who have agreed that longer-term pay deals
would be preferable to annual wage negotiations, will welcome the
sympathy for this idea within the report, which says it would
provide “some stability and predictability” for

The commission was set up by the Local Government Services
National Joint Council (NJC), with Acas (Advisory Conciliation and
Arbitration Service), but operates independently from the NJC, Acas
and the government.

of the Local Government Pay Commission

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