Pay staff fairly to tackle care recruitment crisis

Government ministers must improve care pay if they’re to succeed in filling huge numbers of vacancies, UNISON says today.

The government has launched a new recruitment campaign ‘Care for Others. Make a Difference’ to boost the number of workers in adult social care as existing staff are forced to take time off to self-isolate or recover from illness.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I am urging the public – whether you are a job-seeker, or looking for a new career – to consider working in care. We need short-term support while we face the pandemic and to continue to recruit the right people, with the right values, now and into the future.”

But UNISON warns that the care sector was already woefully understaffed before the pandemic, pointing the finger at low pay and poor conditions.

UNISON Eastern head of social care Caroline Hennessy said: “Care staff are hugely undervalued, and woefully underpaid. Low wages are mostly to blame for the high rate of employees in the care sector joining then leaving.

“Care work is fulfilling but tough and isn’t to be taken on a whim. Looking after people involves so much more than washing and feeding them.

“If the government is serious about filling thousands of vacancies across the sector, it must start treating staff with the respect they deserve and grant them fair pay that reflects their skills.”

UNISON has five demands for a national care service to urgently tackle the problems in the sector, including a real living wage and proper employment contracts.

5 demands