Social worker pay is increasing but care staff feel the pinch

Adult social care workers have seen their average pay fall, but the number of people employed in the sector continues to grow.

Social workers’ average pay has increased over the past five years but wages for care assistants and home carers have fallen by almost 2% since 2010, according to a report by Skills for Care.

The report, which uses data from the Office of National Statistics’ annual survey of hours and earnings, found care assistants and home carers “tend to receive more favourable rates than retail cashiers and check out operators”, but added that actual pay rates in 2011 ranged from £6.09 to £12.03 per hour – 1.7% less on average than in 2010.

On the other hand, social workers’ median gross weekly pay has risen steadily year-on-year from £526 in 2007 to £584 in 2011. They earn more on average than nurses and occupational therapists, but less than teachers.

The number of adult social care jobs in England has grown by around 4.5% to 1.85 million. This increase was largely due a 15 % rise in the number of direct payment recipients employing staff, the report found, reflecting the continued move towards more personalised care.

Skills for Care has projected that, factoring in a continuing rise in the number of personal assistant jobs, the total number of jobs in adult social care will grow to around 3.1 million by 2025.

There are now 1.63 million adult social care workers in England. The average age of a newcomer to the sector is 35 and the workforce is predominantly female (82%).

Overall vacancy and turnover rates have remained steady at 3% and 19% respectively. Nine in 10 workers have been in their current job for at least two years, with over a third having been in their job for more than six.

“This report shows that once again the number of organisations offering social care and the number of people working in our sector has increased,” said David Croisdale-Appleby, chair of Skills for Care.

“It is a timely reminder to us all that with an aging population and more people with complex needs, adult social care is a key social and economic force in our communities.”

Skills for Care’s report, The State of the Adult Social Care Sector and Workforce in England, 2012, used data from the national minimum data set for social care and other sources.

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