Flintshire Council calls for national pay scale for social care workers amid ‘staffing crisis’
A local authority has called for a national pay scale to be introduced for social care workers to address a staffing crisis.
Flintshire Council first revealed in August that it was struggling to find enough staff to meet the demand for services.
Among the factors it blamed are employees leaving for higher paid jobs in other industries and the end of freedom of movement after Brexit.
Officials have put a number of measures in place to tackle the recruitment problems, including sponsoring the authority’s officers to study to become social workers.
However, a senior figure said it was still having difficulty filling vacancies and wants pay for care workers to be brought in line with NHS staff.
The Welsh Government is now being urged to intervene to avoid the risk of services failing over the winter.
In a report to councillors, Neil Ayling, Flintshire’s chief officer for social services, said: “Nationally we are operating in the context of considerable and sustained pressures that threaten local authorities’ ability to fully meet statutory responsibilities and regulatory requirements.
“Many local authorities are working on a range of short, medium, and long term measures attuned to their particular circumstances.
“This report identifies the specific risks we are managing locally, and the range of actions we are taking to proactively respond to protracted recruitment and retention challenges across the social care sector.
“However, resolving the pressures across the social care system will take investment and necessitate a range of actions at a national, regional and local level.
“This includes a call for a standardised national pay scale for social workers and the harmonisation of pay rates for health and social care workers.”
The report shows demand for social care services is currently higher than before the Covid-19 pandemic began and coincides with a reduction in workers.
Despite taking steps to ease the pressure, Mr Ayling said social care services were “in a serious and deteriorating position” which could lead to a “winter crisis”.
He added: “Our drive to keep services functioning and able to meet demand are being led professionally in the regional recovery co-ordination group.
“The need for direct assistance with capacity and resources has been escalated to Welsh Government given the emergency we are facing in maintaining services and the risk of service failure this winter.”
The council has recently authorised making extra payments to ensure it has enough experienced children’s social workers following a series of unsuccessful recruitment campaigns.
The temporary arrangement will be in place for 12 months at a cost of £183,000 to bring salaries in line with external roles.
The workforce issues will be discussed at a meeting of the authority’s social and health care scrutiny committee on Thursday (December 9, 2021).
Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).
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