Comment: When will we see the government’s values of ‘community, equality and opportunity’ reflected in investment in social care?

Our CEO Rachel Cackett responds to publication of the 2024-25 Budget

Responding to Tuesday’s announcement of the 2024-25 Budget, Rachel Cackett, CEO of CCPS, said:

“It’s very disappointing to see the social care sector overlooked, under-discussed and lacking in committed investment.

The government says public services need reform to be sustainable, particularly the NHS.

Government needs not-for-profit social care providers to deliver more prevention and early intervention for that to happen.

But to do that, providers need to still be here and to be sustainable.

Announcements yesterday reiterated that the base rate of pay would increase to £12 per hour for care and support staff starting in April 2024.

That means pay for our regulated, trained and largely female workforce will continue to remain unacceptably low in the context of rising living costs, a sector recruitment and retention crisis, and ever-growing demand for social care services.

This budget doesn’t address the current crisis in social care and doesn’t invest for the future.

Tougher budgets mean tougher decisions, but choice is what governs decision-making. And choices reflect the true values of the Scottish Government.

If the Scottish Government wants to be true to its words on ‘community, equality and opportunity’, we must see those values reflected in investment in our sector.

But this isn’t over: there is still time invest in the future of Scotland.

We are calling on the Scottish Government to Rethink To £13 per hour, at least, for social care and support staff as a first step in a timetable to equity.”

CCPS is currently analysing the full budget to assess the real terms impact of the announcement on social care spending across government portfolios.

Resources:

Link to our Rethink To 13 campaign

Link to Scottish Budget

4 Steps Guest Blog: “Delaying a pay increase means the people we support, our colleagues and the Scottish Government all lose out”

The First Minister’s pledge of £12 from next April fails to address a deepening crisis, argues Karen Sheridan, Chief Operating Officer of Community Integrated Care and CCPS Board member

Having worked in the social care sector for almost 23 years, I despair that we are still fighting for the recognition the sector deserves. This is a sector that stands tall and proud supporting the those that need it most in society, despite what can only be described as a broken and desperate system. A workforce that turns out no matter what, seemingly still awaiting proper recognition from the Scottish Government in terms of meaningful commitments and action.

While that sounds strong, it is based on constant frustration and desperation as we continue to fight for the rights of our workers who are quite frankly undervalued, underpaid and – despite all our efforts – still not recognised for the complex jobs they hold. Roles that are technically, emotionally, and physically challenging. Roles that demand the best of people to deliver crucial frontline services in our communities. Roles that support and care for people in their most challenging times.

Now don’t be mistaken: by ‘frontline’ I don’t mean just Support Workers, I mean the army of brilliance beside them every day – our leaders, specialists in recruitment and quality, our cleaners and facilities, and many more! Our sector is built on professional and dedicated teams, yet our government continues to deny fair and equitable pay for carers and repeatedly ignores the value of those who stand alongside them to keep our social care services running.

Community Integrated Care’s Unfair To Care report proves that social care is demonstrably undervalued. The publication shows that, in Scotland, despite the government’s commitment to improving social care, we still see significant gaps between Support Worker pay and roles of equivalent size in the NHS and public sector – a staggering 21%, or £4,330 when compared with the NHS Band 3 Worker. This difference is being felt deeply by many during the cost-of-living crisis. It is is not only an injustice for the talented people who deliver an essential service to society, but also for people who draw upon care. Having stable, reliable, relationship-focused support is fundamental to leading a life of independence.

We do not begrudge our health colleagues such a pay scale – we applaud their ability to secure these terms. It’s a good deal which is deserved. However, it would be remiss not to draw the comparison and highlight how the difference in employer seemingly allows a position that diminishes the role of our colleagues in social care, allowing such an injustice in relation to fair and equitable pay for roles which are so stark in their similarities. It would be cynical not to suggest that the structural differences and dispersed nature of our sector makes it easier to ignore our calls in a way that couldn’t with other large statutory organisations.

I have mentioned that our social care workforce is demonstrably technical, accountable, and skilled but it is a point worth mentioning twice. Our sector offers uniquely rewarding vocational experiences for people who are passionate about connecting with others. Sadly, despite this, far too many are finding that social care cannot be a long-term career for them. There is a moral and economic imperative for the government to change this by working directly with the sector, and those who draw on support, to create a workforce plan that ensures social care can become a valued profession. An equitable and fair pay framework must be applied as a priority. Without this equality with partners, we will never achieve the balance needed for a fully-functioning, stable, and sustainable health and social care system.

Our polling with Ipsos illustrates that 91% of the public believes that social care is important to society. Our sector contributes more than £60 billion to the UK every year. The pay gap presents a false economy and moral injustice that can and must be changed. It masks the costs of agency work premiums, the economic impact of families exiting employment to provide care for loved ones, and the resource wasted on managing a constant churn of talent. These figures point to thousands of lives being constrained by low pay or inconsistent and unavailable support.

Our First Minister recently announced in the 2023-24 Programme for Government that social care staff rates of pay would be increased to £12 per hour from April 2024. Was this welcome? Of course. But since that poignant moment of disclosure the announcement seems to be shrouded in some confusion and weeks on, we are still seeking the clarity on what it really meant.

Community Integrated Care supports CCPS 4 Steps Campaign, and we stand with our colleagues across the sector in this call to action. The First Minister’s announcement is welcome, but it fails to address the deepening crisis in the social care sector. Delaying a pay increase undermines staff morale as it simply doesn’t demonstrate value or recognition for the life-changing work they do every day. In short, the delay will only serve to prolong a cost-of-living crisis that would undoubtedly be at a cost to the sector and those who rely on our support as our workforce are forced to look for better paid opportunities just so they can afford to live. Make no mistake: every vacancy represents a life impacted!

Frankly, nobody wins in this scenario – not the people we support, our colleagues or the Scottish Government. We call on the government to listen to the thousands calling for change and do the right thing!

Read more about our 4 Steps to Fair Work campaign

4 Steps Guest Blog: “Our staff deserve recognition for their drive, passion and commitment”

Immediate action and appropriate funding is needed to ensure children’s social care services can deliver for their workforce as they deliver for Scotland’s children, argues Capability Scotland’s Ben Bradbury

Capability Scotland work with disabled children and their families across Edinburgh, Dundee, Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire in a range of settings including holiday support, community services and residential care. We are committed to delivering outstanding care, support, and opportunities for the young people we work with and key to that is our workforce.

By their nature services for school age children and young people tend to have unusual working patterns. With children attending school during the week the support we offer is, with the exception of school holiday provision, in the evening or at weekends. This presents challenges to recruitment and retention of staff as the hours required of staff to deliver this support do not always sit comfortably alongside raising their own families or maintaining a healthy work life balance. In addition, the qualification and experience levels expected of staff in these services is often higher than in their adult equivalents, for example our day care of children registered managers must be qualified to degree level. There are good reasons for this, indeed we often work with some of the most vulnerable individuals in society, but it adds to the challenge of maintaining appropriate staffing levels of the required skill and competency.

In spite of these challenges our children’s services staff are enthusiastic, creative, playful and without exception go above and beyond to deliver exceptional services for the young people in their care. Whether it be attending training sessions at weekends to fit in with delivery of holiday support or working late on an evening to enable a trip to the cinema to take place we ask a lot of our teams, and they rise to the challenge.

However, since the pandemic an additional challenge has presented itself for organisations such as ours. The pandemic rightfully shone a light on the pay levels for social care staff, the response from the Scottish Government and local authorities has focused entirely on adult social care staff. The government, through the various Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCPs), has provided additional funds to raise the minimum rate of pay for staff in adult social care roles. These uplifts had the effect of keeping the minimum rate of pay for staff in adult services above the Scottish Living Wage throughout the pandemic and in line with the living wage in 2023.

Unfortunately, no such uplifts have been forthcoming for our children’s services. Unlike with adults, services for children and families tend to be commissioned by the local council rather than the HSCP. There has been no reciprocal offer from the Scottish Government for children’s services, the knock-on effect has been that many of our children’s services have had no universal uplift to the rates paid by local authorities during a period of high wage and price inflation. During this period Capability Scotland has met the cost of increasing wages for children’s service staff in line with their adult service counterparts. However, this state of affairs is not sustainable indefinitely.

If appropriate funding arrangements aren’t arrived at there will be negative consequences on our ability, and the ability of organisations like ours, to continue delivering high quality care and support for disabled children across Scotland. Much has been made of the need to support Fair Work practices across the public sector, as an employer we fully embrace this approach, and we believe our staff deserve recognition for their drive, passion and commitment. As an organisation we welcome the First Minister’s recent statement regarding an uplift to £12 an hour which appears to be inclusive of staff across both adult and children’s services. However, there remains much uncertainty about the timescales and mechanisms by which this will be delivered.

What is needed now is immediate action and appropriate funding to enable us to deliver for our staff as they deliver for Scotland’s children.