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UK government "should improve pay and conditions in care work": Prof Juanita Elias

Community care managers in the UK say that acute staff shortages are causing them to turn down new clients who need help -- full story on BBC News.

Professor Juanita Elias, an expert in social care from the Department of Politics and International Studies, offers her comment:

Prof Juanita Elias

"Boris Johnson has promised to 'fix' social care. However, what we have seen so far from the government has almost exclusively focussed on how to fund social care so as to prevent older people from having to sell their homes. Missing from this policy approach is any effort to significantly improve the pay and working conditions of those who provide care. This is an issue that urgently needs to be addressed in order to ensure the long term sustainability of the sector and its ability to provide quality care for older and vulnerable people as our population ages.

"During the pandemic, low pay and poor working conditions in the sector often contributed to the spread of Covid in care homes, and the stresses and strains of undertaking care work increased to unsustainable levels. Research has shown that care workers are highly dedicated individuals who enjoy their work despite the endemic low pay in the sector. Care workers also experience high levels of job insecurity and the work can have negative impacts on their physical and mental health.

"Brexit has certainly contributed to care labour shortages, but the more fundamental issue that the government needs to address is how to ensure that the sector, including local authorities, have the funds that they need to ensure that this vital workforce is able to access decent work with good pay and working conditions and opportunities for career advancement. Covid demonstrated the costs associated with undervaluing care work, if the government are genuinely committed to building back better, then they should be thinking much more about how to improve pay and conditions in care work."

20 October 2021

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