Homecare Association responds to Autumn Statement and National Living Wage increase
The Homecare Association has long campaigned for better pay conditions for care workers. Caring is skilled work, and more so today than ever.
The increase in the National Living Wage (NLW) to £11.44 per hour announced ahead of today’s Autumn Statement brings care workers’ pay closer to the £12.45 per hour paid to an NHS Band 3 Healthcare Assistant with 2+ years’ experience.
However, the legal minimum wage applies to everyone and unless care providers can pay substantially more than their competitors in other sectors, recruiting and retaining staff will remain extremely challenging.
Public bodies purchase at least 70 percent of homecare hours and as evidenced in our recent Homecare Deficit Report, that spending falls short by at least £2.08 billion per year.
Inadequate funding also leads most public bodies to commission homecare by the hour, or even the minute, at fee rates which are far too low. This results in zero-hour employment at wages which are also far too low.
Whilst commissioners and providers alike will welcome a 9.8 percent increase in the NLW, the continued absence of any additional funding for social care will give them grave concern about how they will cover this extra cost.
We call on:
Central government to invest a minimum of £2.08 billion extra per year in homecare with immediate effect.
Local authority and health commissioners to pay a fair price for homecare, which covers the increase in the national minimum wage and allows delivery of good quality, financially sustainable care services.
Homecare Association CEO, Dr Jane Townson OBE said:
“Homecare workers perform a vital public service, enabling us all to live well at home and to flourish in our communities, whilst relieving pressure on our overstretched healthcare system. Fair pay and conditions for homecare workers is a moral and an economic imperative that will protect and benefit us all, now and in the future.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer should understand this, and yet, out of 110 measures he announced today, not one so much as mentions social care, despite the sector employing 1.6 million people and contributing over £55 billion to the UK’s gross domestic product.
Although it falls short of wage rates for equivalent jobs in the NHS, the new £11.44 national minimum wage rate is to be welcomed. However, commissioners and providers alike will be deeply concerned about their ability to meet the cost of a 9.8 percent rise in care worker pay without substantial additional funding.
We therefore once again call on the government to fund care properly. Doing otherwise is a false economy that betrays our most vulnerable and places an intolerable strain on unpaid family carers, the NHS and our wider public services.
The government must understand that a viable long-term funding solution for social care is not a luxury; it’s both essential and long overdue.”