Scottish social care charities are bailing out a Scottish Government policy to pay the Scottish Living Wage (SLW) to all care staff with a “whopping level of subsidy”.
The Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland (CCPS) has released research that shows only 30% of third-sector social care organisations paying the SLW are getting enough funding to do so.
This means they are topping up salaries, National Insurance contributions and pensions for other income sources, such as public donations and reserves.
Around 30% of Scotland’s social care is provided by the third sector on behalf of local authorities. CCPS members include major charities and housing associations, such as Enable, Deafblind Scotland and the National Autistic Society Scotland.
However, in the week the Scottish Living Wage went up to £9 an a hour, CCPS spoke out about the unfair funding which is seeing its members subsides the Scottish Government wage promise that local authorities are refusing to pay.
CCPS surveyed its members in September and found only 78% of were paying the full living wage.
Only 30% of those said they were getting enough funding from local authorities to meet the salary policy, suggesting 70% are supplementing the policy from other income sources, such as public giving, or using reserves.
A total of 22% of charities said they couldn’t afford to implement the policy because local authorities weren’t paying them enough.
In 2016, the Scottish Government announced all social care staff in Scotland should be paid the real living wage. It made £255 million available over three years to help public, private and third sector social care bodies increase wages, including covering increase National Insurance and pension contributions.
However, CCPS said it is not clear how that figure was calculated, and the way the funding is distributed varies dramatically from council to council.
One CCPS member said: “This is a time consuming and challenging process as we need to negotiate with each funder separately and have received a wide range of different settlements across the country ranging from 0% through to 3.19%. We then have to calculate whether the uplifts secured will fund our pay policy for the current year.”
Another said: “Mostly we have not implemented the adult social care living wage because the funding offer is clearly insufficient and not close to meeting costs.”
Funding offers from local authorities ranged from below 0% in two areas, to over 15% in one area. Most increases offered were between 2 and 3.5%.
Members of CCPS are only happy with the funding they are receiveing in one council area. In two areas, 70% of social care organisations say they have not been offered enough. In most areas between 33% and 57% say they’ve not been offered enough to pay the wage.
The findings cast doubt on the social care sector’s ability to continue to ensure all staff receive the living wage, particularly follwing its increase from £8.75 to £9 an hour.
Research carried out by the University of Strathclyde on behalf of CCPS goes into detail about the sector's concerns and finds that relationships between local authorities and social care providers are becoming strained as a result of the Scottish Living Wage.
Annie Gunner Logan, chief executive of CCPS, said although the policy to increase social are stuff wages was progressive and welcomed by voluntary sector care providers, its delivery has left social care charities struggling to make ends meet.
“The findings outlined in both our reports suggest that the delivery of the living wage in social care has, in truth, been made a practical reality at least in part by a significant transfer of financial responsibility and risk to the voluntary sector, with concomitant pressure on the sector to bail out the policy with a pretty whopping level of subsidy.”
The payment of the living wage for sleepovers (when staff stay in a person’s home in case they fall ill overnight) is proving even more challenging. Only 19% of third sector social are providers are paying the living wage to all staff for sleepovers.
One provider said: “To pay a sleepover rate of £8.75 per hour requires funding of £11 per hour to meet costs, but requires £12.11 per hour to cover central management charge and bedding/furniture replacement for the sleepover room…[funding offers] are clearly insufficient and not close to meeting costs.”
The majority of local authorities (81%) have made approaches to providers about redesigning overnight support.
Suggestions range from removing all sleepovers to requests for information about current sleepover use. Ideas for replacing sleepovers include using waking nights, responder services, and/or technology.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are working with COSLA, care providers, integration authorities and the trade unions to support the implementation of the Scottish Living Wage for adult social care workers.
“This progressive and important policy has benefited up to 40,000 care workers so far, mostly women.
"In 2018-19, Scottish Government’s additional direct investment in social care and integration totals over £550m.
“This includes £66m for local government to support social care including the continued commitment to the delivery of the Living Wage for adult care workers and to cover the extension to sleepover hours during 2018/19.”