Dimensions team ahead of the petition hand-in
On Tuesday 19th September, not-for-profit support provider Dimensions led a cross-party march to No.10 Downing Street to hand in its petition calling for government to align minimum care worker pay to NHS Band 3 – a plea supported by over 76,000 members of the public.
Damian Green MP, Paul Blomfield MP and Zack Polanski, Deputy Leader of the Green Party, joined Dimensions’ Chief Executive Rachael Dodgson, support workers, people supported and members of the Dimensions Council to deliver the petition and urge government to give social care the recognition it so urgently needs.
Across the UK, care and support workers are earning below the Real Living Wage. Meanwhile, In the past three years, a typical sales assistant has gone from earning 13 pence per hour less than a care and support worker to 21p more. This shift is having a huge impact on people’s career choices. Low pay is driving people out of essential careers in social care, leading to around 152,000 social care vacancies today1, with many people who require social care not receiving it.
After years of delayed reform, urgent action is needed to prioritise recruitment and retention and encourage a pool of dedicated workers into social care careers for the long-term. In Scotland, the First Minister has recently announced that social care staff will receive at least £12 an hour from April 20242, but the rest of the UK is yet to follow suit.
Dimensions’ petition launched in May this year, alongside research showing that 80% of the public think social care is as important or deserves the same respect as the NHS. NHS Band 3 includes clinical support workers, therapy assistants, pharmacy assistants, administrative workers, and clerical staff, who are currently paid £11.67 per hour. The vast support for the petition reflects the belief that social care workers’ skills and professionalism should be recognised at an equal level with these important roles.
Rachael Dodgson, Chief Executive of Dimensions, says: “It is incredibly encouraging to see the country unite behind our cause and recognise the vast importance of our social care workforce and the difference they make to the people they support.
“Every day, thousands of social care and support workers undertake complex delegated nursing tasks and support people to make choices and gain control over their life. They maintain family relationships, help with friendships, support with employment and personal care. They are skilled, professional workers.”
“While other sectors have seen pay rise after pay rise, social care has been left behind. If this continues for much longer, not only will the people who rely on our support be impacted, but the NHS will also slow to a halt.
“Increasing social care pay isn’t just a case of rewarding hard work, but will support recruitment and retention efforts at a time when the sector is under immense pressure. We urge the government to consider our call and move social care funding up the agenda.”
Rt Hon Damian Green, Conservative MP for Ashford and co-chair of the Adult Social Care APPG, says: “The social care crisis has been escalating for decades and becomes ever more urgent to address by the day. Dimensions’ petition calls for an essential change that I believe will go a long way towards preventing skilled social care workers from leaving the workforce for better paid roles elsewhere. We cannot fix the NHS without addressing the problem in social care first, and increasing pay to attract more staff is one key element of this.”
Paul Blomfield, Labour MP for Sheffield Central and member of the Health and Social Care Committee, says: “The government mustn’t shirk responsibility for social care staff any longer. They set the funding for the sector and by cutting local councils have held down wages, undervaluing care workers and creating a staffing crisis. We need to align care wages with the NHS recognising its dependence on social care”
To build on the petition’s momentum and continue pushing for change, Dimensions will host a Parliamentary reception in the House of Commons on 4th December. It will bring together parliamentarians, industry experts, social care providers and support workers to discuss the necessary steps to help employers to recruit and retain social care workers.
The petition is still open. To sign, please visit: http://www.change.org/social-care-pay