Here are the insights from our CEO, Paul McCay, on the recently unveiled Autumn Statement. This statement holds significant implications, particularly regarding the National Living Wage, impacting our valued social care employees across England.
In his statement, Paul McCay addresses both the positives and the concerns stemming from the Autumn Statement.
The Autumn Statement provided some good news for social care employees, with the announcement that the National Living Wage will increase in April 2024 raising the current hourly rate of £10.42 to a new hourly rate of £11.44. Hopefully this will help social care colleagues across England with some of the continuing cost of living challenges that they are facing and demonstrate that the care they provide is truly valued. However, the Autumn Statement provided no clarity on where the additional funds to pay this increase in the National living Wage will come from. Unlike other sectors, social care providers cannot simply raise our prices to meet any increases in our costs. We rely on most of our funding to be agreed with, and provided by our Local Authority partners and we recognise that many of them are already struggling with significant cost pressures. We would hope that any announcements explaining how and when our Local Authority partners will be given the additional financial support to ensure that the costs of meeting this deserved increase in wages will be released soon. Like everyone else, social care providers have not been exempt from the financial challenges of the past few years and many are struggling financially due to the impact of the workforce crisis, inflationary pressures and limited funding. There is simply no capacity in most social care providers budgets to meet this increase in the National Living Wage, so it must be met in full by the fees received by our Local Authority partners.
Notwithstanding the generous increase in the National Living Wage, it should be noted that this is the lowest wage most employees can expect to earn. Social care staff deserve better rates of pay that recognise the skills, commitment and responsibilities that are gained from working in the sector. There have been numerous calls for social care staff to be paid a minimum wage equivalent to a Band 3 NHS Nursing Assistant (which is currently £11.67 per hour). We feel that this wage will help address some of the workforce recruitment and retention problems that social care providers are currently facing and return social care to a more sustainable footing. Sadly, this years Autumn Statement has missed another opportunity to recognise and value our hard-working social care staff.
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