Millions to be spent on wage boost for frontline care workers in Kirklees

Millions of pounds are to be pumped into care sector wages in Kirklees in an effort to hang on to overworked and underpaid front-line staff.

Thursday, 16th December 2021, 7:00 am
Coun Mus Khan, Kirklees Council’s cabinet member for health and social care

It comes as health chiefs seek to stem the numbers of people leaving the “very stretched” social care system.

Health bosses want to retain staff by addressing pay using £2m of NHS funding. That means bringing forward to December a 59p uplift in the national living wage to £9.50. The rise was due in April 2022.

It will benefit the lowest paid care workers in domiciliary, residential and nursing care homes across West Yorkshire.

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Kirklees Council’s cabinet member for health and social care, Coun Mus Khan, said care workers had shown “heroic commitment and resilience to the residents they have looked after” during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

She said: “This investment will give a huge boost to the workforce in Kirklees and will demonstrate the value of integrated working.

“By increasing the uplift in pay for staff now we will be in a much better position to retain and recruit staff to make sure our residents receive the quality care they need and deserve to stay well and independent for as long as possible.”

Across Kirklees 130 care homes, 66 domiciliary care agencies and a range of other care providers employ around 10,500 full-time equivalent social care workers.

Of that number 2,150 domiciliary care workers support 3,100 service users and 3,070 care workers in care/nursing homes support 3,950 care/nursing home residents.

However some workers paid the current national living wage of £8.91 an hour are leaving the sector as they can find better rates of pay elsewhere.

Basic pay was said to be the single biggest factor affecting staff turnover in social care closely followed by feeling valued.

In the last six months in Kirklees the number of people working in care homes has fallen by five per cent.

In domiciliary care the number has fallen by two per cent.

Turnover rates in staff are lower where wages are higher. For those earning £9.50 an hour and over, turnover rates are currently at 25.5 per cent.

However for staff on zero hours contracts it is 31.8 per cent; for staff with less than one year of experience 38.2 per cent and for staff under the age of 20 it is 43.7 per cent.

Health executives said: “The last 18 months [during the pandemic] has been hugely challenging for staff working across the health and social care sectors.

“NHS staff have been more visible in the coverage of the pressures and their contribution to tacking the pandemic and the role of the social care staff, whilst hugely evident to people who use social care services, has not received the same coverage.”