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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Charity providers warn government fails “to grasp reality” of social care workforce

This news post is 9 months old

CCPS and Carr Gomm called for more from Holyrood following the Programme for Government.

Care providers across Scotland’s third sector have joined together to warn of the failure of the Scottish Government to “grasp the reality of what’s happening in social care in Scotland”. 

Last week the Scottish Government announced its 2023-24 Programme for Government (PfG), which First Minister Humza Yousaf called “unashamedly anti-poverty and pro-growth” with a package of measures aimed at helping build a more equal society. 

Key commitments included paying social care workers in a direct care role and frontline staff providing funded early learning and childcare in the private, voluntary and independent (PVI) sector, at least £12 an hour from April. 

The First Minister said: “The Scottish Government will always be on the side of the people we serve. Scotland is – certainly should be – a land of opportunity, but I know it doesn’t always feel like that to people bearing the brunt of the UK Government cost-of-living crisis, to families living in poverty, to struggling businesses, to those who still face consequences of discrimination and inequality. I get that.

“This Programme is an opportunity to be explicit about the driving mission of this government. So let me make it abundantly clear, we are a government who will maximise every lever at our disposal to tackle the scourge of poverty in our country.

“In the year ahead, we will support more than 300,000 children with more than £1,000 a year through the Scottish Child payment. We will expand the availability of high quality childcare – providing funding in six early adopter local authority areas to offer increased access to childcare from nine months through to the end of primary school. And we will invest in raising the pay of childcare and social care staff.

“We will do all of this – first and foremost because it is the right thing to do. And also, as I know well from my own family history, because providing people with support and security helps them to contribute to society and to create opportunities for others. This Programme for Government shows how we will make progress towards a fairer, wealthier and greener Scotland.”

Significant concerns had been raised about the impact that a Scottish Government-funded base rate of pay of just £10.90 per hour is having on staff and services.

The 4 Steps to Fair Work Campaign, run by the Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland (CCPS), warned many staff are leaving the workforce for better paid jobs elsewhere. 

The charity had originally called for the implementation of the promise of a minimum of £12 per hour for social care staff, starting from April this year. 

They also asked that the government apply pay uplifts to staff in all services, not just those in registered adult social care, deliver funding packages that value the crucial role of support staff and managers, alongside frontline workers, and publish a timetable by this September to deliver fully on Fair Work in Social Care by 2025.

Following the PfG announcement, the CCPS’ chief executive Rachel Cackett said: “We welcome the fact that the Scottish Government has recognised the issue of fair pay for social care staff.

“However, today’s announcement represents a failure to grasp the reality of what’s happening in social care in Scotland. It falls way short of what is required and what we’ve called for through our 4 Steps campaign.

“Social care staff needed an immediate pay increase, backdated to April of this year, as a first step in bringing them security – and giving a sense of consistency for the people they support.

“Any further delay will heap pressure on the workforce and services during a prolonged cost of living crisis and through another extremely challenging winter period.

“We’ve called for pay uplifts to be applied to staff in all services, not just those in registered adult social care, and we’ve urged government to deliver funding packages that value the vital role of support staff and managers, alongside frontline workers.

“Anything less than this contributes to distortion in the sector, undermines staff morale and, again, impacts on the quality of relationships and consistency of support for the people in our communities who most need it.

“We are confused by the disparity between the content of the First Minister’s statement at Holyrood and the detail of 2023-24 policy priorities outlined in the letter to the Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care, also published this afternoon.

“In the former, a pay uplift to £12 per hour was expressed as a firm commitment. In the latter, an increase ‘up to £12 per hour’ for adult social care is described as an option to be evaluated. Which is it?

“As a matter of priority, the government must confirm the commitment to a pay uplift with an absolutely definitive timeline, and no backtracking.

“We will be seeking more detail and pushing for clarification about the introduction of the £12 pay uplift, which the First Minister announced 136 days ago.

“We will continue to collaborate with Scottish Government to ensure that fair work can be delivered for social care staff – and we will continue to work to ensure that our campaign calls are answered.”

The concerns were echoed by others in the sector. In a statement, charity Carr Gomm wrote: “We welcome the First Minister’s commitment in the Programme For Government to raise the adult social care wage to £12 per hour in April 2024. However, we are disappointed and angry as this announcement has not gone far enough.

“Staff in Carr Gomm and across the sector must wait another six months to see this increase in their pay packets. There is also no commitment on backdating pay to April 2023. Both would help address the issues with recruitment and retention we are facing now.

“This funding is also only for staff in ‘direct care roles’. This fails to recognise the vital importance managers and those in office roles have in delivering excellent support.

“It continues to be that an adult social care worker in the third sector is still paid less than the equivalent role in the NHS and in local authorities. This is an inequality that is having a direct impact on our ability as a sector to ensure people are receiving person-centred care which maximises the choice and control they have in their lives.

“The Scottish Government must recognise and reward skilled and qualified staff who enable people to remain safely at home and live good quality lives. This is why we will continue to call for an increase to the adult social care wage.”