Pay nurses more to stabilise social care, charity says

Struggling sector needs to be able to recruit staff – the Health Foundation

Struggling sector needs to be able to recruit staff – the Health Foundation

Picture shows a healthcare assistant with a care home resident. The pay of social care staff, including nurses, must be raised to help stabilise the sector in England, a health charity says
Picture: David Gee

The pay of social care staff, including nurses, must be increased to help stabilise the sector in England, a move that would require extra government spending of £1 billion next financial year, a health charity says in a report.

Nurses working in social care earn 7% less than their NHS colleagues, with the gap set to grow under the NHS pay deal, the Health Foundation charity says.

Increasing numbers of people are unable to access social care, providers of care are at risk of collapse, and individuals and families continue to suffer unnecessarily, it says.

Call to align social care staff pay with NHS

The Health Foundation wants the government to spend an extra £1 billion in the year from April 2020 to help align social care staff pay with that of NHS counterparts and address the 110,000 job vacancies in the sector.

This would need to grow year-on-year to an additional £4.4 billion to existing budgets by 2023-24, it says.

The charity wants individuals’ lifetime care costs to be capped at £46,000, which it said would alleviate people’s fears of losing their homes and assets to pay for care. This would cost £3.1 billion a year, it says.

Health Foundation assistant director for health and social care sustainability Charles Tallack said: ‘The current social care system in England is a shameful policy failure which is compounding the suffering of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

‘The new government must start addressing this systematic failure by stabilising the market, boosting staff pay and putting in place reforms that limit the costs for those most in need.’

‘Governments have ducked the need for reform’

Mr Tallack, one of the report’s authors, said social care reform has been sidelined too often. ‘Successive governments have ducked the need for reform for too long, but a solution is within reach.

‘An additional £7.5 billion by 2023-24 is relatively affordable, representing less than 1% of total government spending.’

The charity argued that increased taxation would be an obvious route towards a fairer and more generous system.

Responding to the report, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: ‘We have given local authorities access to nearly £4 billion more dedicated funding for adult social care this year, and a further £410 million is available for adults and children’s services.

‘The prime minister is committed to fixing the social care system and we will outline proposals in due course.’

Find out more

Health Foundation: What should be done to fix the crisis in social care?

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