Government plans to increase the National Living Wage (NLW) could ‘destabilise already fragile care markets’ the president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) has warned.
Last month, government bosses announced plans to increase the NLW from £8.21 to £8.72 for those aged 25 and over, coming into effect on April 1 2020.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid, said the increase would ‘end low pay and put more money in the pockets of hard-working families’. However, president of ADASS, Julie Ogley, said the government will need to provide additional funding to social care or risk destabilising the market.
She said: ‘We welcome the government’s announcement of an increase in the wages of the lowest-paid workers. This recognises the skilled and compassionate work that care workers undertake each and every day to support some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.
‘The government will clearly need to fund this significant commitment and adjust the funding available to local government and social care accordingly. If government does not provide additional funding, then this will further destabilise already fragile care markets with a clear impact on those of us who need care and support.
‘Prior to this announcement, our autumn survey found that nearly all directors (94%) say that have little or no confidence that they will be able to deliver their statutory responsibilities for care market sustainability by the end of 2020/21. Any further hole in the finances would make the task even more difficult.’
The Conservatives pledged £1bill per year in their manifesto to be shared between children’s and adult’s social care, however, experts have warned that without a long-term funding solution it will have no impact.
Professor Martin Green OBE, chief executive of Care England said: ‘The increase in the living wage is significantly above inflation and cannot be afforded unless the government, who is the major customer of social care, delivers the money to care providers before the increases happen.
‘For many years we have seen successive governments increasing the living wage and expecting care providers to absorb this without any extra funding.
‘The Government is pouring money into the NHS, and this will not have an impact unless they deliver a long-term funding solution for social care.
‘The care sector needs to see enough money to cover increases in the living wage and this money should be delivered directly to care providers because when it goes into local authority budgets, much of it leaks and does not reach the front line’
Andrew Furey is a former care worker who now heads up #awakeonasleepin, a careworkers-collective advocating for government to close the loopholes that allow social care providers to avoid paying care workers national minimum wage.
He said it is the responsibility of big care organisations to help smaller providers by demanding government provide funding specifically for care staff wage rises.
He said: ‘We share their concerns about funding social care, but we also think it’s disgraceful that an industry that chooses to ignore the National Minimum Wage regulations would complain about being underfunded.
‘Social care providers make this argument against increasing the minimum and living wage every time it’s increased. If they want to take the pressure off why don’t they cut their boardroom pay?
‘We understand it’ll be difficult for smaller providers to pay for the increased wages. But the big providers make enough in profits to cover an increase in pay for their staff.
‘They have the power, so the responsibility is on them to come out and asked the government for funding to pay specifically for wage rises, it’s the only way to ensure it will go to the staff.’
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