Social care workers need to be “better paid and more highly regarded” rather than earning less than dog walkers, a former deputy prime minister has said.
In a report published on Tuesday, Damian Green called for the minimum wage for care workers to be increased in line with NHS pay and said there needed to be a shift in public opinion similar to the boost in status that nurses received following the work of Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War.
Mr Green, who served as deputy prime minister under Theresa May, said: “We need more care workers, we need them to stay longer in their jobs, and we need them to be better paid and more highly regarded.”
Anne Pridmore, who receives 24/7 social care and contributed to the report, said: “We must recognise and appreciate the skills of the workforce, and pay workers a decent wage.
“I get to pay my carers £10 an hour in a town where you can get £15 for dog walking. How can this be conducive to good recruitment and retention?”
The report, published by centre-right think tank Public Policy Projects (PPP), comes as the Conservative leadership debate focuses on tax cuts.
Leadership candidate and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has promised to scrap the increase in national insurance brought in to help pay for the NHS and social care.
Conservative MP Chris Skidmore, who is also PPP’s research director and is backing Ms Truss’s rival Rishi Sunak, said the report “demonstrates comprehensively why the Government was right to introduce the health and social care levy last year”.
Mr Skidmore said: “Without additional investment and resource, it will be impossible for our social care sector to survive without a loss of care provision, threatening the welfare of thousands of elderly and vulnerable clients who deserve better.
“While it’s easy to talk about tax cuts, the reality is that this leads to cuts to services, cuts to care and ultimately placing the lives of those in need under threat.”
He added: “Anyone who is advocating for the removal of the social care levy needs to come forward to explain how they are going to fund social care without it. It looks as if a key Conservative pledge to protect homes from being sold to pay for care is now at risk.”
As well as raising the minimum wage for care workers, the PPP report recommends better funding for workforce wellbeing, promotion of social care careers in schools and the establishment of a Royal College of Care Professionals to raise the sector’s status.
The report also calls for local authorities to pay the “fair cost” of care to providers, rather than relying on people self-funding their care to make up the cost of proper wages.
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