The UK’s largest union has responded to news of over 100,000 job vacancies in the care sector by saying the care system is ‘broken’ and the UK us in urgent need of a ‘fully funded national care service’.
A new report published by Skills for Care has found the adult social care sector in England still needs to fill close to 112,000 job vacancies on any given day.
The independent charity used data provided by employers to the Adult Social Care Workforce Data Set (ASC-WDS) to create their annual ‘The state of the adult social care sector and workforce in England’ report. This year’s report shows a slight reduction in the number of job vacancies but lays bare the shortfall in the workforce with employers still needing to find thousands of new workers.
Skills for Care CEO Oonagh Smyth said:
“Any reduction in the number of vacancies is welcome, but we need to attract more new recruits who have the right values to fill posts that offer long term careers where you can make a difference in people’s lives every single day.
“We will use the quality information in this report to make long-term workforce decisions informed by solid data in what is a critical period of change for a workforce bigger than the NHS.”
The report revealed that the percentage of days lost to sickness in the adult social care sector across England during the coronavirus pandemic increased to 7.5% between March and August 2020, compared to just 2.7% the year before.
Responding to the new data, the UK’s largest trade union said that the figures show the care sector is ‘broken’ and called on the government to act.
UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Vacancy rates this high prove the care system is broken. Government immigration policies are simply making a bad situation worse.
“Ministers says they appreciate care workers, but gratitude won’t keep the wolf from the door.
“Care can be tough, emotionally exhausting, highly skilled work. But its staff are also underpaid, poorly treated, and undervalued.
“The government must end the care crisis by showing it’s ready to end a bargain-basement service that puts profits above care and treats staff like numbers on a spreadsheet.
“The UK urgently needs a fully funded national care service with fair pay, extensive training and a proper career structure for its dedicated workforce.”
Helen Whately, the Minister of State for Care, said that the report highlighted the challenges currently faced in staff recruitment and retention in the care sector and the importance of investing in staff training and career development.
She said the government has recognised these challenges with a national recruitment campaign and the Join Social Care recruitment tool, as well as working with the DWP to widely promote careers in adult social care.
Ms Whately added:
“We are supporting care providers through the pandemic with the costs of pay for staff required to self-isolate and so no care worker should lose income as a result of the requirement to only work in one location, with the £1.1 billion infection control fund.
“As we come through the pandemic I want to see ever more appreciation of the care workers we rely on to look after the most vulnerable in our society.”