Care homes warn Chancellor of ‘catastrophic collapse’ over living wage

Care providers urged to offer zero-hours opt out in new report

By 2023, care workers initially employed on zero-hours contracts should be offered a choice of contract after three-months of employment, a new report has said.

Workforce: recruitment, training and retention in health and social care, published by the Health and Social Care Select Committee also calls for funding to enable care providers to raise wages.

It notes that social care providers are consistently being outbid by the retail and hospitality sectors due to pay rates that average £17,900 – some £3,500 less than similar roles in the NHS.

The report calls on Government to increase funding for social care by £7 billion by 2023–24 to uplift pay in line with the National Minimum Wage and NHS Band 3 wages.

It warns that the Fair Cost of Care exercises “must not be used as an excuse to reinforce the low pay which is endemic in the sector”.  

Other recommendations for Government include the introduction of an externally validated care certificate which is transferable between social care providers and between social care and the NHS and clear career progression paths. The new Care Certificate should be externally offered and accredited, and provided at no cost to providers. Finally, social care workers should be designated as key workers on the same basis as public sector employees so they can access affordable rented housing.

To support international recruitment, sponsorship costs should be waived for two years.  

Commenting on the findings, Nuffield Trust Senior Fellow Dr Billy Palmer said: “But without a comprehensive, funded and bold plan for the workforce of the future, this will not be the last parliamentary report to raise the alarm about staffing problems in health and social care.”

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