The real living wage for social workers in Wales must be funded

Some retirement homes have advertised higher salaries to attract employees

THIS week the Welsh Government released its draft budget. This includes additional funding of £43.2m to support the implementation of Real Living Wage for registered social workers in care homes and home care as well as personal assistants.

The Homecare Association calculates the UK-wide minimum price for home care. This represents a sustainable award that covers basic salary costs such as salary, training time, travel time, sick leave and necessary overheads such as regulatory costs and office costs.

To pay a real living wage wage rate of £9.90 in 2022, we calculate that £24.08 is needed per hour of care provided.

Rates paid by local authorities and health boards in Wales in 2021/22 averaged £19.30 per hour (according to our Freedom of Information research). If we compare the fee rates paid in Wales in 2021 and the rates we think are needed for sustainable operations while paying the actual living wage (£24.08), then we think the funding gap would be £51.4 million for home care alone.

We fear the announced £43.2m may be insufficient, particularly as it is intended to cover care homes and personal assistants in addition to home care.

With ongoing recruitment challenges, some providers have had to offer wages in excess of £9.90 an hour to attract staff, but they cannot operate sustainably without securing an income to cover their costs, and the majority care is paid for by the public sector.

We are also awaiting further information on how the policy will be implemented fairly for healthcare workers and their employers, which will require careful consideration.

Homecare Association CEO Dr Jane Townson said: “Care providers in Wales need to recruit and retain care workers with the right skills and values ​​to deliver the services people need. Everyone involved in the industry knows the value of labor – it’s a job not everyone can do. We are delighted that the Welsh Government is treating carers as a top priority, but it is essential that policies are backed by sustainable funding and careful implementation. Many suppliers operate with extremely tight margins and the stability of the sector is at stake if policies are pursued without their costs being covered.

Michael A. Bynum