Positive staff figures don’t mask need for reform

POSITIVE news on the social care workforce does not hide the need for future reform to cope with rising demand, the Independent Care Group warned today.

A new Skills for Care report today showed that the social care workforce had grown by 1% in the past year and vacancies fallen from 164,000 to 152,000.

Much of that is down to care providers recruiting staff from overseas.

But today’s report also warns that the workforce will need to grow by around 445,000 posts by 2035 to cope with rising demand for care.

The ICG welcomed the news but warned that reform was still more necessary than ever.

ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “News of improvements in the social care workforce is very welcome but cannot hide the need for proper reform of the sector and a strategy for care staff recruitment for the future.

“The figures are helped by the 70,000 staff that providers have recruited from overseas – showing to critics, including the New Conservatives – just how important this source of staff is and why it should not be interrupted.

“Overseas staff are making a vital contribution in terms of the care they provide and the diversity of cultures they add to the workforce. They must always be a part of our recruitment picture.

“But we are going to have to recruit many hundreds of thousands more people from home and abroad for the future and at the moment that looks like a tough task.

“There is a care need explosion just around the corner and we are going to need all the staff we can find to cope with it. I ask the question, if we will need an extra 445,000 care staff by 2035, where are they going to come from?

“The need for proper social care reform and a clear, sustainable strategy for creating a social care workforce that is ready for the future has never been more important.

“We need to see a movement of funds from NHS healthcare to preventative and social care and parity for social care staff with their NHS counterparts in terms of pay, terms and conditions.

“If we start to properly recognise and reward social care staff, the recruitment picture will improve. If we don’t, we will be woefully underprepared for what is to come.”