Editorial Comment: Investing in the future

Every year it’s the same. Unions submit a seemingly unrealistic pay claim. Council leaders ignore the submitted evidence and offer an insultingly low deal. The unions duly reject it and then protracted negotiation leads to a modest uplift – although not enough to outstrip inflation. None of which does much to inspire social workers.

This year is no exception. The unions asked for 6%, Local Government Employers have offered 2.2% they’re in negotiation. With the retail price index currently standing at 4.1%, anything less than this represents a pay cut.

Councils are also dragging their feet over equal pay job reviews designed to correct long-standing gender inequalities in pay. The reviews could improve the pay of the female-dominated social care workforce.

It’s enough to dishearten the most ardent professional. Our recent survey of 1,800 social workers showed that poor pay was driving many to consider alternative careers.

Many wanted to fight back, with 47% advocating strong pay negotiation through unions and 25% wanting strike action. All eyes are on the unions. And it’s no coincidence they are jostling for position in representing social care.

When asked, most of our readers said they needed a pay rise of 5% to 6% this year. At a time when so much new policy rests on the profession, it’s an opportunity to invest in the future.

Contact the author

Mike Broad

This article appeared in the 27 March issue under the headline “Good pay is an investment”

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