The UK government has failed to tackle ‘chronic underfunding’ in the social care sector despite a growing demand for services, research has found.
A report by the Social Care Employers Consortium (SCEC) claims that local authorities must cover the full costs of recruiting, retaining and developing qualified staff if the government expects high-quality service from the voluntary sector. It found almost two-thirds (60%) of charities say they are forced to supplement local authority fees with voluntary income, which goes against Charity Commission guidelines.
Social Care: has anything changed? is based on responses from 26 organisations employing more than 40,000 social care staff, and criticises the government’s failure to act on a 2004 report by the SCEC which demanded ministers address pay equality between public and voluntary sectors.
Clare Smith, chair of SCEC, said: “Since our report in 2004 the government has not addressed this growing crisis. Social care should be seen as a valued and rewarding career, yet because of the way public sector salaries are structured, refuse collectors earn over £150 more a week than voluntary sector care workers.
“Voluntary organisations should not be expected to subsidise public services that benefit millions of families across the UK. On behalf of staff and service users, we call on the government to invest more money in social care, reduce unfair competition for staff and raise the status of social care work,” said Smith.
“A lack of training, and lack of interest in caring as a career, could compromise the standard of care received by individual employers in the long term,” she added.
The SCEC is made up of 41 voluntary sector organisations representing more than 65,000 social care employees.