The care sector will face a shortfall of around 350,000 workers by 2028 – and that number could reach 400,000 if Brexit brings an end to freedom of movement – according to new research published this week.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has added its voice to those warning of a “growing workforce crisis” in care brought about by “chronic under-funding” and a “dysfunctional” system.
With the Government’s green paper on social care still unpublished, the IPPR has released “Fair Care – A Workforce Strategy for All” demanding a long-term funding settlement and profound change in the care sector’s pay and conditions.
Adult social care provides 1.6 million jobs in England, but 8.8 per cent of these jobs are unfilled – three times the labour market average – according to data from Skills for Care.
The IPPR states that 500,000 of these workers earn less than the Living Wage Foundation’s Real Living Wage, and that £450 million a year is needed just to bring them up to this level.
As well as calling for higher pay, the report proposes sector collective bargaining rights for social care, the mandatory adoption of the Care Certificate qualification and making care work a regulated profession.
If Brexit is going to mean an end to freedom of movement, then social care roles should be added to the Shortage Occupations List and a Trusted Sponsor Scheme introduced, according to the think tank.
“The treatment of the care workforce is a national scandal. They provide vital support for some of the most vulnerable members of our society,” said IPPR research fellow Joe Dromey.
“Improving pay and job quality in social care is not just the right thing to do. It is essential if we are to tackle the growing workforce crisis and ensure that the growing number of people who desperately need care as they grow older can be properly looked after.”
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis agreed, warning: “Low pay and a lack of funding are at the very heart of the social care crisis.”
The report argues that the Care Quality Commission should be given wider regulatory powers, to ensure standards of employment in care work as well as in provision of care services.
If you found this article useful, there is more advice and guidance at Care Quality Matters – along with free resources, template policies and procedures and other downloadable tools. Find out more by claiming your 30-day free trial here.