Increasing care workers’ pay will have a positive impact on those working in care and those who need it
Social care matters, and all of us working in local government have a key role to play in celebrating the contribution our care workforce makes to the communities in which we live.
In Hertfordshire, around 30,000 people care for our older and disabled people, helping them to live as happy, independent and fulfilling lives as possible.
This is a highly skilled workforce, there’s no doubt about it – and, without them, the whole health and social care system would grind to a halt. Like many other places, however, we struggle to recruit and retain people in the sector.
Alongside the traditional barriers such as poor public perception, especially in comparison to the NHS, and negative press, we have our proximity to London, very high levels of employment, and some massive retailers on our doorstep. It’s a testing situation, but we’re up for the challenge.
This year, we’ve taken the decision, subject to approval, to put the extra £12 million we will generate from implementing the 2 per cent social care precept increase into the pockets of our care workforce.
We’re aiming for an hourly rate for our home care workers of at least £10.55 (the current level of the London Living Wage) and up to £12.50 an hour. For us it’s a no-brainer; an ‘invest to save’ decision, that we believe will have a positive impact on those working in care and those who need it.
We need to draw more people into home care because that’s where we’re feeling the most pressure. Roles in home care are hugely challenging, requiring a real mix of determination, empathy and integrity, and we need to make sure that wages properly reflect this.
“We need to draw more people into home care because that’s where we’re feeling the most pressure”
It’s the latest in a series of policy decisions we’ve made to give those working in social care a better deal. In 2014, we launched the Hertfordshire Care Standard, which signalled a commitment to pay more competitive wages and provide meaningful training and career development opportunities. And our award-winning Good Care campaign shines a light on social care through a series of events and awareness-raising activities.
It takes a special person to care, and we hear time and again that our care workforce choose and remain in this job because it’s a vocation, and they want to make a difference. We want to send a clear message to everyone living in Hertfordshire that we hear this, and that we truly value the work they do.
Our hope is that the extra pay will help us keep the great people we already have, encourage those who have moved into other sectors to come back, and persuade people who may not have been financially able to consider care as a career in the past to come and join us.
Social care touches on almost all our lives – and if it doesn’t now, it will do at some point in the future. Remember, our ageing population includes our relatives, our friends and our neighbours.
So, it is vital that we continue to prioritise it, celebrate it and keep pushing the Government to find a long-term sustainable solution for its funding.