Low Pay Commission Roundtable

For too long, the Government has implemented wage rates without giving the requisite funding to support large swathes of the adult social care sector to implement them sustainably. This has been despite the Low Pay Commission often imploring the Government, in their yearly report, to consider the nuances of adult social care funding. In particular, how the publicly funded nature of many parts of adult social care means that those areas are bound by the funding it receives and cannot raise prices to reflect increases in the National Living Wage and other wage rates. This is wholly unlike the vast majority of other low paid sectors.

Therefore, I and Care England were delighted to delve a little deeper into these nuances at a Low Pay Commission Roundtable with the Low Pay Commissioners and Care England members earlier this week. Within which, Care England’s members elucidated the problems which continue in the adult social care sector as a result of underfunding and inaction surrounding reform, for example:

  • Commissioners of adult social care in local areas often commission at rates that do not reflect the cost of care nor inflationary pressures – in turn, hampering their ability to invest in their services and workforce. It is worth noting that this is very much a result of the underfunding, which has besieged the local government and, in turn, adult social care since the start of austerity, in particular.
  • Increases in the National Living Wage undermine wage differentials and the ability of providers to maintain them without the subsequent funding to back them up.
  • Some attendees called for a similar model to the Agenda for Change, which the NHS uses, to be applied in the adult social care sector.
  • The failure of many local authority rates to reflect the actual cost of care is forcing some providers to leave the publicly funded market.
  • Care being funded at a rate that is not at the requisite level does, ultimately, lead to the production of a workforce market bound by resource.
  • However, it is important to caveat this all because, in many parts of the adult social care sector, providers have been able to implement fantastic reward schemes, despite the constraints that are often placed upon them.

The Roundtable also featured a plethora of impassioned contributions from attendees who outlined the spectacular value of the adult social care workforce. Whom, it is who, we ultimately want to see lasting change to one that is valued by government and society to the full extent. However, if the National Living Wage continues to be implemented in a structural context that undermines its implementation, we will not see the production of the sustainable system, which we all yearn for.

As we advance, Care England will continue to work with the Government and organisations like the Low Pay Commission to ensure that the voice of the adult social care sector is heard. Too often, in the past, the nuances of the sector have not been fully appreciated in society, and, in turn, this has lead to the neglect of the real issue which transcends all – sustainable funding. Likewise, Covid-19 and the pressures which it has placed upon the sector, but also its value, has been demonstrative of the urgent need for action.

Lastly, we would be very interested in hearing your thoughts on the issues, so please contact Rwilliams@careengland.org.uk with any you may have.