The Independent Care Group has welcomed new moves to help recruit and train social care staff but warned that the vital issue of giving the workforce proper pay is still being ignored.
The Department of Health and Social Care has announced a national career structure, a new accredited qualification and funding for apprenticeships and digital training to help develop the social care workforce.
The ICG today welcomed the measures but warned that a continuing failure to address pay in the sector was critical.
And it fears the measures will do little to tackle the 152,000 vacancies in the sector that are crippling care.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “We have long campaigned for measures to establish a career path within social care and for more funding to go into training and qualifications – so these measures are to be welcomed.
“Our major concern remains the elephant in the room and that is pay.
“Until we can find a way to pay staff properly for the fantastic job that they do, everything else will be just tinkering at the edges of the problem.”
The ICG is concerned that the Government is failing to tackle a severe staffing shortage that has 152,000 vacancies and homecare agencies and care and nursing homes struggling to fill shifts. Some 1.6m people currently can’t get the care they need.
“Sadly, the Government isn’t doing enough to reform and properly fund the sector and make it an attractive place to work and build a career,” Mr Padgham added.
“We have said it many times, the failure to properly fund commissioners like local authorities is starving the sector of funding and that shows itself in the industry’s inability to match other jobs when it comes to recruitment. We have seen in recent days a supermarket chain significantly increasing the pay of its employees. Without better funding for social care, we simply cannot compete.
“At the end of last year, the Government introduced measures that will make it harder for social care providers to recruit from overseas but without making any efforts to support providers to recruit in this country.
“We want to recruit staff and build a professional, committed and motivated workforce to provide excellent care to meet current and future demand. But without the proper support over funding, we cannot do so.”
He said it was also worth remembering that the Government had halved a £500m pot earmarked for workforce training to just £250m last spring.