Social care workers in line for cash incentives to retrain and add skills

    The social care workforce could be offered financial incentives to
    retrain and multi-skill if the government decides to push ahead
    with NHS-style reforms.

    Community care minister Stephen Ladyman told employers and service
    providers at a closed two-day social care workforce conference last
    week that the government was trying to develop an Agenda for Change
    for social care.

    Agenda for Change is the pay initiative due to be rolled out
    nationally in October for all directly employed NHS workers except
    doctors, dentists and senior managers. It will reward them with an
    average 12.5 per cent on top of basic pay over a three-year period
    for taking on new responsibilities and, in pilot areas, has already
    enabled nurses to develop clinical skills and take on work
    previously only carried out by doctors.

    One delegate said: “There was talk around developing a remuneration
    spine [for social care] such as that in the NHS, but there was
    recognition that this would be difficult when 70 per cent of the
    employers are from the private sector.

    “The government is looking at trying to develop a compact that
    everyone would sign up to.”

    Andrea Rowe, chief executive of social care training body Topss,
    said there was recognition of the particular problems of
    retention.

    “We recruit people only to lose them to Sure Start and Connexions,”
    Rowe said. “There was a sign-up from government and local
    authorities that they need to deliver incentives and rewards.

    “I think we should take a leaf out of the NHS’s book and develop
    the knowledge, skills and values framework and look to match
    qualifications with the health skills escalator.”

    Ian Johnston, director of the British Association of Social
    Workers, said social workers would be prepared to take on more
    training for better rewards but questioned how it would be funded.

    The idea of children’s social workers being better rewarded for
    taking on the most difficult cases was first aired in last year’s
    Every Child Matters green paper. But Ladyman wants to
    develop similar proposals for the adult workforce so that it avoids
    becoming a poor relation.

    Proposals from the conference will feed into the new vision for
    adult social care and a revised health and social care pay and
    workforce strategy that will be published later this year.

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