We are joining with other social care charities to call for change and demand better funding for the social care sector. A major new report Unfair to Care released yesterday reveals care workers are paid £7,617 less than their direct NHS equivalents, with a significant pay gap compared to simpler roles in the public and commercial sectors. This is at the heart of a shocking 28.3% workforce turnover – with 152,000 vacancies presently.    

Like many other social care providers, we have become increasingly concerned about the growing pressures of low pay and ongoing living costs on its colleagues. For the second year running, we included questions in our annual staff survey gauging the impact that the cost-of-living and low pay crisis is having on its workforce and despite a historical investment in organisational pay in 2023, the statistics still show a clear need for further support in sector pay.  

Of the 78% of colleagues who responded to the survey (1,412), almost three quarters (72%) said their money ran out before payday and more than half (52%) resorted to using credit cards or borrowing money from lenders to cover everyday living expenses such as food and bills. Worryingly, nearly a fifth of those who responded shared that they found themselves drawing on the support of a local food bank to get by.  

To try and help alleviate their situation, 57% were regularly having to do overtime to top up their salary, with 18% taking on a second job to make ends meet. These results reflect a similar picture from providers across the social care sector, with people leaving jobs they love because of the crisis. 

Ian Pritchard, Chief Executive of AFG comments, “It’s shocking and saddening to read the results from our latest survey. What many fail to realise is that although care providers like AFG are trying to pay real living wage to all its employees, many of the local authority rates for their services are well below what is required. We invested £3.1m from our reserves this financial year in our employees’ salaries to top up the rates we are receiving from local authorities. We call on Central Government, Local Authorities and Commissioners to stand up and do the right thing by paying carers fairly and acknowledge the amazing work they undertake in looking after those they support.” 

These issues have resulted in the accelerated growth of unfilled vacancies in the sector – from 112,000 in 2021 to 152,000 by October 2023.  Without decisive government investment to enable care providers to offer fair pay, the social care vacancy rate will continue to grow. 

Read the Unfair To Care report: www.UnfairToCare.co.uk