Directors have urged the government to fund a £1,000 winter bonus for adult social care staff in England to stem a mounting workforce crisis.
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services said the measure would show care work was valued and provide staff in England with the recognition counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have already received.
It would cost an expected £1.4bn, ADASS said.
The call comes with:
- Vacancies up to 9.1% across adult social care in October 2021, from 6.2% in March.
- Filled posts down by 3.1% from April to October 2021.
- The government’s own estimates showing just short of 40,000 jobs being lost in the care home sector from its introduction of mandatory Covid-19 vaccination for staff.
- Home care providers predicting a significant exodus of staff from the introduction of mandatory vaccination in domiciliary care from April next year.
- Sickness absence rates for care staff having doubled from 2019-20 to 2020-21, in the light of Covid.
- A significant drop in the supply of new staff from overseas from 2019 to 2021, following tightened immigration rules.
- Eight five per cent of NHS trust leaders today saying that they are worried about the level of investment going into social care in their area.
“We are facing a perfect storm with staff quitting, family carers under immense strain, the NHS struggling, care providers going out of business and people being left without care and support,” said ADASS president Stephen Chandler.
“Courageous and compassionate people working in social care are quitting faster than they can be recruited and people who need support to live decent lives are waiting longer for help and getting less of it.”
“Paying a £1,000 bonus to care workers over the winter would show that we prize their skills and dedication as a society. It would send a strong signal to people that care work is a career that is respected and is going to be properly rewarded in future. Unlike their counterparts in the rest of the UK, care workers in England have not been paid any government bonus for working through the pandemic.”
This is a reference to the £500 bonus paid to staff in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and the bonuses of £500 and £735, in 2020 and 2021, for staff in Wales, all of which were related to working through Covid. The minimum wage for staff providing direct care in Scotland is increasing to £10.02 an hour from next month, compared with the current national living wage of £8.91, which will increase to £9.50 next April, and is what many staff in England are paid.
Chandler said that, longer-term, ADASS wanted to see a minimum rate for staff in England that was above the national living wage and equivalent to that paid to NHS staff doing similar work, who currently receive significantly more.
‘Indignity and harm’
He added: “But we need recognition over the coming months of the brilliant job that care workers do if we are to keep them and get through what is going to be a very difficult winter.”
“We have to ensure that no one goes without vital care and support. Without action now, the pressures on the NHS and family carers will grow and there is a real risk of people suffering indignity and harm and dying alone.”
“We appreciate the dedication and tireless work of social care staff throughout the pandemic.”
She pointed to the £162.5m workforce retention and recruitment fund, which will be paid to councils in two installments, this month and in January, which she said would “assist local authorities and care providers in working together to ease workforce pressures in a variety of ways”.
She also cited the £500m allocated to support the training, development and wellbeing of the social care workforce from 2022-25, as part of the government’s reforms to social care.