Care England is calling for care wages to be fully funded by the government from April 2024.
In its evidence to the Low Pay Commission (LPC), the representative body for independent social care providers says the costs associated with these workforces are high and believes it is important to “ensure that they are renumerated properly for their hard work”.
Professor Martin Green OBE, chief executive of Care England, said: “While Care England welcomes the decision of the Low Pay Commission to increase the national living wage again in April 2024, as it has a positive impact on those working in adult social care, we must once again urge the Government to match this increase with the appropriate funding.
“As a labour-intensive sector, costs associated with the workforce represent the most significant cost for most providers, and with the vast majority of staff paid at or around the NLW, any increase will amount to a significant increase in the costs borne by providers.
“Care England has continued to raise concerns that many local authorities do not offer fees which secure future sustainability. Care England would therefore encourage the Low Pay Commission to work with both the Department of Health and Social Care and the Treasury to consider how they can increase the budgets of local authorities such that they can afford to match NLW increases with free increases for ASC providers.”
As the independent body advising the government on national minimum wage rates, including the national living wage (NLW), the LPC sought input to help form its recommendations to make to the government. The consultation closed on Friday (9 June).
The LPC expects the NLW to be between £10.90 and £11.43 from April 2024, with a mid-range estimate of £11.16.
Green added: “The adult social care workforce is the most valuable asset to our sector, and we must ensure that they are renumerated properly for their hard work. Earlier this year, Care England, and the national learning disability charity Hft, called on the Government to develop a pay framework to establish a minimum care wage, above the level of the NLW and tied to NHS band 3.
“The implementation of a fully-funded care wage would help reward a workforce that continues to work tirelessly and would help to alleviate the ongoing workforce pressures faced by the sector as a result of historic chronic underfunding from central Government. Low levels of pay for care staff is considered to be the biggest barrier to recruitment and retention. Increasing rates of pay is deemed to be the number one thing that would have the most impact on improving the workforce situation. This is the responsibility of this Government if they are to truly fix social care.”