The Care Workers Charity Response to “People at the Heart of Care” White Paper

The Care Workers’ Charity is here to champion care workers and ensure they never face financial hardship alone and to advance the financial, professional, and mental wellbeing of social care workers by making grants, signposting to resources, and providing access to services. 

We are pleased that the government recognises the need for reform but after reading the “People at the Heart of Care” White Paper which has been released today we cannot help but feel disappointed in many respects. For a one hundred page document to initially state that the social care workforce is “our biggest asset” and then to have such a disproportionate mention of them within it is unacceptable. The limited goals and lack of substantial information on how changes will be made leaves many questions unanswered. Given all the issues affecting the social care sector, now is the time to be bold and innovative and with a clear and detailed plan of what changes will be made.   

We appreciate the £500 million commitment to the sector however to state that this will be used to support a workforce of 1.5 million people in areas of well-being and training is insufficient. 

To discuss care workers’ rate of pay increase in terms of The National Living Wage increase is saddening as we believe that care workers should never be placed in this category of pay and expect to feel valued. This also diminishes the value that the government places on those who draw on social care by undervaluing those who provide this service.   

We are also disappointed to see no forward steps in the parity of esteem between social care and health care despite a notable move in the public’s opinion of how well the sector has coped under pressure during the pandemic with very little government support. Programmes such as Channel 4’s “Help” and Ed Ball’s “Inside the Care Crisis” have shown the true heroic nature of our Social Care sector and yet this seems to have yet again fallen on deaf ears within our parliament. This is again shown with the very disappointing amount of MP’s who turned up for the unveiling of the white paper today. 

We ask for clarity on the comment that the government is committed to make sure that care workers are paid for all hours of work. As we know that sleep-ins are still not paid for after the supreme court ruled that care workers on “sleep-in” shifts are not required to be paid the national minimum wage for hours when they are not awake. We are also aware that some care workers are still not paid for travel times or breaks between visits.  

For the social care sector to have “a shared roadmap of priorities” it must be taken into consideration that in order to feel valued and to remain in the sector our social care workforce need to be paid better for the work that they do. We are disappointed to not see stronger steps such as registration to support the workforce to be recognised as professional.  

If the government hopes to begin to tackle issues in Social Care there must be a better investment into the workforce.  While we are glad that this conversation on reform has begun, we hope that improvements over the next 3 years will go much further than today’s paper.  

Karolina Gerlich – CEO of The Care Workers Charity