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Agenda for Change pay rise made care recruitment difficult, council chiefs say

More needed to improve social care workforce challenges on a national level

More needed to improve social care workforce challenges on a national level


Picture: Charles Milligan

The forthcoming reform of social care funding in England must also be accompanied by efforts to address the recruitment and retention crisis in the sector, council executives say.

Local Government Association deputy chief executive Sarah Pickup says councils and providers are finding it difficult to fill posts even when they were investing money in services.

National action

Ms Pickup calls for national action to tackle what she believes are ‘workforce challenges’.

‘There is much more to do to improve the status and value of social care as a career,' says Ms Pickup.

Speaking at an event organised by The King’s Fund, Ms Pickup says that while the agreement reached earlier this year to give Agenda for Change staff a pay rise was welcome, it had made it even harder to recruit in the care sector.

Latest figures show that 8% of social care posts are unfilled – up from 6.6% a year ago – with one third of the 1.4 million workforce leaving their jobs every year.

The worst vacancy rates are among nurses with 12% of roles unfilled – up from 9% in the past year.

The King’s Fund senior social care fellow Simon Bottery agrees, suggesting the workforce is ‘as big a problem as any in social care’.

He says terms and conditions need looking at – pay rates are traditionally lower for nurses working in the social care sector, while pension entitlements are weaker.

'The workforce in social care is a real problem. There is a huge number of vacancies. We have not made it an attractive and skilled profession'

Dame Kate Barker

The green paper on social care funding is expected to be published before Christmas after being delayed from the summer.

Independent panel member Dame Kate Barker, who is advising the government on the green paper says: ‘The workforce in social care is a real problem. There is a huge number of vacancies. We have not made it an attractive and skilled profession. This troubles me.’

Health Education England said it would be publishing a workforce strategy for the NHS and social care soon.


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