Social care sector must have post-Brexit action plan to raise standards, says IPPR
New analysis by IPPR has shown that training and working standards in the care sector need to be improved if it is to attract more UK workers and avoid labour shortages post-Brexit. It finds that, alongside boosting funding, an ambitious workforce strategy is necessary to tackle longstanding challenges with poor working conditions and sub-standard care.
The report highlights that:
- Around 55,000 of social care workers are EU migrants and with uncertainty about the future of freedom of movement, the flow of EU migrant workers could provide a less reliable source of labour post-Brexit;
- The UK will need to recruit 1.6 million low-skills health and social care workers, two-thirds of the current workforce up to 2022, larger than any other occupation in the UK;
- The level of quality and training of care workers in the UK is significantly lower when compared to similar economies and poor workforce conditions mean that the sector struggles to recruit, train and retain workers with the skills to deliver high standards of care.
As a result of the current poor standards of the social care services in Britain, there are growing concerns about high levels of user dissatisfaction, the rising number of abuse alerts and the large number of providers needing formal action plans for improvement.
IPPR argues that – alongside extra investment – urgent action is needed to improve standards in the care sector:
- Effective minimum standards for training and qualifications to push up the quality of social care;
- Better conditions for workers, enforced through a stronger Care Quality Commission in partnership with HM Revenue and Customs;
- An industrial strategy for care with a new focus on innovation, including stimulating the potential of new technology to drive productivity improvements.
Clare McNeil, IPPR associate director for families and work, said, “Social care services will need to change drastically in order to deal with the growing demand for adult care services due to our ageing population and a post-Brexit migration system.
“These challenges cannot be addressed without a sustainable funding solution for social care, for example by raising National Insurance (NI) contributions for employees and employers by 1 per cent. Persistent underfunding in the adult social care sector has led to a reliance on a low-paid, often poorly trained workforce, with care workers some of the lowest paid workers in the country.
“The sector will have a huge challenge on its hands to recruit enough workers to keep pace with demand, particularly with expected lower levels of migration. We are calling for a radical change in workforce strategy - both to improve working conditions to attract more workers and to raise standards in the sector.”
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