4 Steps Guest Blog: “Ending the difference in funding levels between services would be a step towards the fairness we need”

A hierarchy in adults and children’s services or between regulated v unregulated services simply means more inequalities, says Fiona Steel, Action for Children’s Acting National Director for Scotland

In the recent Programme for Government the First Minister announced a commitment to ‘provide the necessary funding in the next Budget to increase the pay of social care workers in a direct care role, to deliver funded early learning and childcare, to at least £12 per hour’. As ever, we await the fine print on how this commitment will operate in practice.

While this is a move in the right direction and may go some way to ‘dealing with pay inequality’ – the first step of the 4 Steps to Fair Work campaign – there is still unfortunately a long journey to go before social care and support workers are properly rewarded and recognised. We can’t forget that The Promise stated, ‘the purpose of the workforce must be to be caring above anything else. That starts with recruiting people with the right ethos and qualities rather than qualifications’.

But how do we get these people into social care?

Action for Children knows that there is a current struggle to attract and retain people into the social care workforce. We also know that social care staff are experts in the people they care for. To provide that vital care requires staff to use multiple skills ranging across the clinical, emotional and academic, while also collaborating closely with a myriad of other professionals.

People who choose to work in the care sector display astonishing levels of compassion, empathy, commitment, and kindness to ensure people they care for are made to feel they belong, are safe, loved and valued.

For too often the perception of social care work as being low skill prevailed. This needs to be challenged and changed.

During Covid we did see the beginning of a shift in people’s attitudes towards the sector: our frontline workers were seen as key workers who added social value. Our staff were the people who society relied on in times of crisis but also in times of normality. It’s disappointing that this view change hasn’t been built upon.

We need renewed government support and help to attract and retain staff in the sector.

As an organisation we are focused on investing in our staff. We are dedicated to building a diverse, inclusive, and authentic workplace. We pay the real living wage; we embrace the Government’s Fair Work agenda. We offer excellent training and developments opportunities; we help staff gain professional qualifications and offer flexible working hours. We encourage young people into our workforce, highlighted by the fact we recently gained a Platinum Award from Investors in Young People (IIYP).

However we are still facing recruitment challenges, especially when it comes to the complexity of commissioning of services.

We as a sector need parity. We shouldn’t have a hierarchy between adult and children services or between regulated vs unregulated services. The difference in the levels of funding between each of these areas can create inequalities.

That’s why Action for Children fully supports CCPS’s campaign calls to ensure equal pay for equal work and value all staff who play their part by delivering funding packages that value the crucial role of the different staff who make up the social care workforce.

The third sector delivers many local authority services, but councils are competing with these providers for staff. They are offering more in wages to attract staff than they give in rates in the contracts for providers, ironically making it harder to staff these local services.

Something fundamental needs to change to make sure Scotland has a talent pool for social care that is deeper not shallower. Action for Children believes the 4 Steps to Fair Work campaign can be the catalyst for change needed. That is why we offer it our full support.

Find out more about Action for Children’s work

Read more about the 4 Steps to Fair Work campaign

Media Release: Report reveals reality of staffing crisis in social care, with more than half of those moving jobs last year leaving the sector

Scale of challenges facing providers uncovered in new study of workforce benchmarking

Social care and support providers in Scotland are struggling with a loss of staff, with an average of 52% of those moving jobs last year leaving the social care sector altogether, according to a new report.

In the study of workforce benchmarking in the sector, almost three quarters of surveyed organisations reported a significant rise in staff turnover in 2021-22.

Seventy-three per cent of organisations delivering social care said their staff turnover rate had increased since 2020-21 – a jump of 14% in a single year and an indication of year-on-year rises in social care staff moving jobs.

Responses captured in the 2022 Social Care Benchmarking Report demonstrate the scale of sector-wide recruitment, retention and staffing challenges organisations are experiencing now.

The Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland (CCPS) and the HR Voluntary Sector Forum (HRVSF) commissioned the University of Strathclyde to conduct the benchmarking survey and analysis for member organisations.

The Executive Summary of the report is published today and is available to download here.

The study also found:

  • Average turnover across respondents was 25%, an increase of 5.5% from the figure reported in 2020-2021.
  • Fifty-nine percent of respondents noted an increase in their use of agency staff (the most expensive staffing option) – building on the 45% who had noted an increase in agency use the previous year.
  • Eighty-one percent of respondents reported that their recruitment needs were higher than in the previous year, an increase of 6% from the 2020-2021 Benchmarking Report figure of 75%.
  • On anticipated future recruitment needs, 46% of respondents reported that they expect hiring staff will involve more difficulty and 54% projected the same difficulty.

Rachel Cackett, Chief Executive of CCPS, said: 

“The headline results of this benchmarking survey are stark and confirm what our provider organisations have been telling us over the past year: retention and recruitment of staff is the dominant issue in a sector that is under intense pressure.

“It’s a situation that has only worsened since this data for 2022 was captured, as differences in pay between not-for-profit social care providers and the public sector have widened yet further.

“This report points to an exit of staff across organisations, resulting in a loss of current expertise; a loss of potential talent; and a massive undermining of key services.

“It’s a loss that has an impact on achieving what we all want to see: people thriving by getting the support they need at the right times and in the right places, with consistent relationships at the heart of that support.

“This is the reason we’ve launched our 4 Steps to Fair Work campaign, which calls on the Scottish Government to take the measures long needed to deliver on investment and reform and set the sector on the route to Fair Work.

“We want to see social care organisations hold on to their workforce, to have the resources to develop their people – and for their staff to finally be fairly recognised and rewarded for their public service.”

Kevin Staunton, Chair of the HR Voluntary Sector Forum, said: 

“As Chair of the Forum, I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our members who were able to participate in the survey this year.

“For years our sector has heard many warm words about parity of esteem and being seen as an equal and key partner in the delivery of social care in Scotland. This report, building on previous years’ results, provides a strong and indisputable evidence base that the reality our people experience on a day-to-day basis is very much different and the sector cannot continue to operate on the goodwill and unfulfilled aspirations of our workforce indefinitely.

“I hope that in a year’s time positive progress has been made to make the investment and reform which has often been spoken about become a reality. Our Forum members welcome the opportunity to work positively with others to make this happen. The people we support and the people our organisations employ deserve better.”

(ends)

Media contact:
Chris Small: chris.small@ccpscotland.org.uk

Notes for editors

  • The HR Voluntary Sector Forum (HRVSF) and Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland (CCPS) commissioned the University of Strathclyde to conduct the benchmarking survey and analysis for member organisations.
  • With thanks to the team at the University of Strathclyde’s Department of Work, Employment & Organisation and their colleagues at the universities of St Andrews and Middlesex.
  • The study involved 26 participant organisations, 73% of which provided social care primarily to adults. Housing support for adults formed the largest proportion of services (40%), followed by support services for adults (34%).
  • 4 Steps to Fair Work: find out more about the CCPS campaign
  • Attached 4 Steps to Fair Work campaign image by Ross Richardson – please credit the illustrator if used in print or online.
  • CCPS is the voice of the not-for-profit social care providers in Scotland. More information here.
  • The HR Voluntary Sector Forum (HRVSF) is a CIPD special interest group of third sector organisations and individuals. The Forum supports practice and information sharing alongside commissioning research relevant to the third sector workforce to inform and influence national decision-making.

Vison and priorities for social care: Humza Yousaf responds to our questions

One of the three candidates vying to be Scotland’s next First Minister has outlined his commitments.

Humza Yousaf, one of three candidates competing to be Scotland’s next First Minister and leader of the SNP, has responded to a letter sent by our CEO Rachel Cackett and Board chair Andrea Wood.

In the letter, sent on 7 March, the candidates were asked three questions:

  • Will you commit to our 4 Steps to Fair Work?
  • Will you commit to implement social care reform and meet with us, within your first month in post, to discuss constructive ideas for positive and urgent change?
  • How would you articulate your own vision for social care reform in Scotland?

In response Mr Yousaf, who has been Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care since 2021, said:

“Thank you for taking the time to contact me as a candidate in the SNP leadership contest and for your patience in waiting for a response.

Currently as Cabinet Secretary of Health and Social Care, the issues you raise are important to me and would continue to be so if elected as First Minister.

There are two key commitments I want to make in regards to the Health and Social Care sector.

We need to make sure that our staff are properly paid – not only to recruit staff but to retain them.

Secondly, we have some reform to do in our NHS which will see as many people as possible treated as close to home as possible, leaving our hospitals available for emergencies only. This means that investment in our Social Care sector is at the heart of NHS reform and for bettering the conditions of work for social care workers.

If we have social care that has the right workforce, that is working for people, then we can stop them from coming in the front door of hospitals or GP practices, but we can also work on stopping the exit block and see people getting out the doors of hospitals as soon as they are fit to do so and back into their community, keeping as close to home as possible.

Therefore, reforming health care and social care has to be at the heart of my leadership. That is why I am passionate about the idea of a National Care Service – although I recognise that current proposals will need amendments, via dialogue with Local Government, Trade Unions, and membership organisations to make sure it works for everyone.

The principle of the National Care Service, where we have fair pay for our social care workers, where we have national collective sectoral bargaining, and where we have ethical commissioning – these markers will solidify a national social care system that is worthy of the name.”

Our letter also argued that a legislative pause could be an opportunity for the new First Minister to look afresh at social care reform based on our model, and to drive forward Fair Work and sustainable funding.

Ash Regan and Kate Forbes have yet to respond.