Living Wage is a sideshow
By Caring Times editor
Making the National Living Wage (NMW) the baseline remuneration for all workers, across all sectors, will do little to benefit the material wellbeing of care workers in care homes.
Over and above the temptation for employers to recruit younger workers, who they can pay less, will be the general inflationary effect as workers pressure employers to maintain pay-differentials. Workers on the lowest rung of the pay ladder will see their uplift quickly eroded by higher prices, higher rents, higher utility bills, so we can cancel out the impact of the NLW on one side of the equation and higher prices on the other, leaving the lowest paid pretty much where they started.
Besides, some care providers have already taken the lead on this, paying their care workers the equivalent of the NLW or above. Admittedly, these tend to be ‘premium’ providers catering almost exclusively for the self-funded market, or charitable providers who are under less pressure to provide a return to shareholders or other equity partners. For those private providers who are reliant on contracts with public bodies, the social care sector has become a very unfriendly place and paying staff more is not an option consistent with business viability.
Governments, however, are inured to cries of dark foreboding and the numbers of publicly-funded older people living in care homes are being steadily whittled-down. I’m not optimistic about the Comprehensive Spending Review in November – policymakers may ask ‘why prolong the agony?’ when the long term goal is to have, with some obvious exceptions, a totally self-funded elderly care sector.
- The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.