Social care providers will not be able to afford to pay the new National Living Wage without protecting social care spending as much as we do NHS spending.
A social care leader has welcomed the introduction of a new National Living Wage which would benefit care staff but warned that the country will have to fund the sector better to pay for it.
In yesterday’s budget the chancellor George Osborne announced a new National Living Wage, starting at £7.20, from April next year for workers over 25.
Mike Padgham, Chair of the Independent Care Group (York and North Yorkshire) welcomed the announcement, which could potentially better reward social care workers, but he warned that money will need to be put into the sector to fund it.
“Everyone wants to see people working in social care properly rewarded for the hard work and commitment they give to the care of older and vulnerable adults,” he said.
“On the face of it, the introduction of the new National Living Wage is a positive step in that direction. However, unless more funding is put into social care, providers will not be able to afford to pay the new National Living Wage to their employees.”
In this country the bulk of social care is provided by independent providers and commissioned by local authorities and health trusts.
Estimates suggest that more than £4.6bn has been cut from local authority budgets since 2010-11, with further cuts of £1.1bn forecast for this year. This has meant that local authorities have been squeezing, rather than increasing the amount they pay for care.
“Social care provision is going through its tightest period for generations with commissioners cutting back and providers struggling to survive,” Mr Padgham added.
“Unless there is a recognition by the government and by local authorities that they have to pay a fair price for the care they commission, it is difficult to see how the National Living Wage could be paid to social care workers.
“As a country we have to see that if we want proper social care for people and to reward those providing it properly, we have to put money into the sector and that means increasing and protecting social care spending as much as we do NHS spending.”