Social care wages in England

(Click here
for a pdf of regional pay break down for children’s and
adult’s services social workers.)

Last month we looked at recruitment and retention of social
workers in local authorities from figures in the social services
workforce study. This month we look at wages paid by local
authorities in September 2002.

The average mean paid to social workers in England was between
£22,000 and £22,500. This is an increase of about
£1,000 on the previous year (September 2001). Occupational
therapists were paid just over £22,500.

However, this picture obscures some important regional
variations because the national average figure is distorted by the
London and south east figures.

London comes out on top with children’s social workers now
earning more than £26,000, which is about £1,500 more
than in 2001. But social workers who work with adults are only
earning a few hundred more than the year before. In the south east
social workers earned on average about £23,000.

There has been well documented pressures on London and the south
east for more social workers especially in children’s
services where vacancy rates of more than 40 per cent are not
uncommon in London boroughs and the average is 17 per cent. For
example, in the aftermath of the death Victoria Climbié, the
much criticised children’s services department at Haringey
Council embarked on boosting existing staff morale and recruiting
more by paying up to £34,000 for qualified children’s
social workers.

In all other regions of England social workers were earning
between £20,500 and £21,500.

An idea of what can be earned can be given by the average
maximum (this is the average of the top quarter of earners) for
field social workers and occupational therapists. This was just
under £25,000 a year.
Other upper average maximums include:

• Home care organisers £23,000
• Home care managers £27,000.
• Managers of older people’s homes between £27,000
and £28,500 depending on size of home.
• Children’s homes managers (up to 15 places)
£28,500 and deputies £25,000.

Hourly pay

• Pay for staff by the hour was employees in elderly
people’s homes averaged £5.70 per hour, those in
children’s homes £9.30, and home care workers £5.70
per hour.
• Hourly paid staff were paid higher rates for shift, weekend
and night shift work.

Benefits and allowances

• Around 4 out of 10 social workers had access to career
grade progression where their salary could increase.
• Few councils operated merit or productivity pay
• Between a quarter and a third of local authorities also
paid a lump sum long-service award.
• Most commonly available pay benefits were lump sums payable
for long service.
• Golden hellos and market supplements were rare with only
one in 10 of children’s and one in 20 of adults’ social
workers receiving them. Only 6 per cent of occupational therapists
were receiving them. No other social care staff were offered these
• Most common non-pay benefits for social workers were
paternity leave (78 per cent were offered this), career break
opportunities (45 per cent) and one in five had a casual car
• For home care workers nearly three-quarters had paternity
leave and 43 per cent casual car allowance.
• Four out of 10 regional managers had annualised hours. 

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