Social Care Recruitment and Retention Crisis

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2022 Community Conference and Seminar
24 November 2021

There have been longstanding and chronic issues around recruiting and retaining workers in the social care workforce. Skills for Care data showed a vacancy rate in England of more than 7% before COVID. Poor pay and terms and conditions and too many unscrupulous employers mean the care sector was already in crisis before COVID hit. But the pandemic, and the failure of the Westminster Government to adequately respond, have made things very much worse.

Increasing availability of jobs in other sectors at pay rates above those available for social care has led to large numbers leaving, particularly since Spring 2021. Standards of care for care recipients are already suffering, and without urgent action to increase pay levels and improve terms and conditions, the situation will deteriorate further.

Data from the Care Quality Commission in October 2021 showed a vacancy rate of over 10% across regulated social care settings in England. Employers report increasing levels of voluntary resignation, and extreme difficulties in recruiting to roles made vacant thereby. This has been exacerbated by the “no jab, no job” policy which has led to tens of thousands more workers in care homes leaving their jobs. The same threat also hangs over the rest of the care sector following the government’s decision to extend the policy.

Conference calls upon the Community Service Group Executive to:

1. Play a full role in developing UNISON’s cross-sectoral social care strategy and campaign, to advance structural reforms and a level of funding for the sector which would enable the payment of decent, attractive wages to retain staff within the profession.

2. Work with the NEC and other service groups to promote terms and conditions improvement in the short term, including extending occupational sick pay schemes and barring zero hours contracts except where desired by the worker concerned.

3. Provide all support possible to groups of members in individual employers seeking to improve either their own terms and conditions or their pay levels.

4. Continue to support UNISON’s campaign for a reversal to “no jab, no job” in English care homes, and oppose its extension to home care workers.