HMRC prioritises social care for enforcement of minimum wage, 22 September

More than 600 employers who were found to have underpaid their workers the minimum wage were named in 2017/18. This is the largest number in any single year since the scheme began in 2014. This year, the social care, retail, commercial warehousing and gig economy sectors have been prioritised by HMRC for enforcement of the minimum wage. Employers who pay workers less than the minimum wage have to pay back arrears of wages to the worker at current minimum wage rates and face financial penalties of up to 200% of arrears, capped at £20,000 per worker.

Be ready for Flu

Care Home Management, 20 September

The Department of Health and Social Care has published two resources to protect staff and residents against flu. The staff information advises that flu should be considered if staff notice two or more residents or staff showing symptoms of a cold or flu, a fever and sudden decline in physical or mental ability, occurring within two days and in the same area of the care home. The DHSC advises that all residents and staff should be offered seasonal flu vaccination each year. Care home residents are a priority vaccination group in the programme, which started this month.

Radical pension plans considered by Government, says Hancock

Laing Buisson, 17 September

In the first indication of the position the Government could be taking in the upcoming social care green paper, Hancock told The Telegraph that an ‘opt-out proposal’ based on the pensions scheme would mean all adults in England would be expected to pay into a national fund to cover their later life care.

Social care funding inquiry launched

House of Lords, 14 September

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee has launched an inquiry into the social care system in England, calling for written evidence. The committee will look at the funding challenges faced, how a sustainable and fair model can be created and what lessons can be learned from elsewhere. The deadline for submissions is 9 October.

Christie & Co’s social care report shows continued pressure on recruitment and fees, 12 September

The report, ‘Adult Social Care 2018: Funding, Staffing and the Winter Crisis’, also presents data gathered from surveys of local authorities and more than 200 leading operators across elderly and specialist care in the UK, particularly looking at the use of agency staff, costs and fees, and how the Government’s additional funding has been used.

Care staff invited to share their opinions on the sector

Laing Buisson, 11 September

Matt Hancock has launched a digital platform called ‘TalkHealthandCare’, which staff can use to post ideas, questions and challenges for the Government. It will be updated in real-time and supported by events, forums and webinars for staff. Among the issues that the platform will be seeking views on include improving shift patterns and juggling home and work lives, speeding up the use of technologies which cut out paperwork and give staff time back, and training and development. The secretary of state also expressed concern about the high number of reports of bullying and harassment in the health and care sectors.

NHS Tariff rules discredited

Care England, 11 September

NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC) is an essential means of ensuring the primary health needs of individuals within community settings are met and much of this care is provided in independent nursing homes. Yet too many CCGs are offering increases to CHC fees for 2018/19 of only 0.1% arguing that they are required to do so by the NHS National Tariff Payment System Rules.

Care homes face many increases in costs not least the need to pay nurses and all staff a fair wage and provide quality training to ensure they can recruit and retain good staff. This situation cannot continue and NHS leaders should be clear to CCGs that the “national price inflator” of 0.1% is not appropriate to local prices for CHC. A Care England survey in July 2017 noted that 45% of providers are projecting to take on less Local Authority placements over the next 3 years due to low rates being paid by councils.

‘Unforeseen circumstances’ could delay green paper

Laing Buisson, 6 September

When asked after her keynote speech at Age UK’s For Later Life conference (5 September) if she could guarantee the paper would be published in autumn, Minister of State for Care Caroline Dinenage replied: ‘That is entirely aspirational. Sometimes there are unforeseen circumstances in politics that will be out of my control.’

Report: The state of the adult social care sector and workforce in England

Skills for Care, September 2018

Key points include:

  • The number of job vacancies in the adult social care sector in England rose to 110,000, or 8.0% of the total workforce, in 2017/18
  • around 650,000 extra jobs could be required in the sector by 2035
  • A quarter of the social care workforce (335,000 jobs) were on zero hours contracts in 2017/18.
  • Turnover stood at 30.7%, equivalent to around 390,000 leavers, although many of these people moved on to roles within the sector.
  • The majority (83%) of the workforce was British, with EU nationals accounting for 8% of the workforce (104,000 jobs) and non-EU nationals 10% (130,000 jobs).
  • 70 per cent of the workforce have at least three years’ experience.

Migration Advisory Committee report on EEA migration

September 2018

EEA share of the social care workforce rose from 1.2% in 1997 to 5.9% in 2017. Non-EEA workers make up the largest share of workers outside the UK and Ireland at 12% in 2017 but those coming from EU new member states grew from 0.5% in 2004 to 3.7% in 2016.

The report said: “Migrants, particularly non-EEA but increasingly those from the EU, contribute significantly to the social care workforce. Social care wages are low, which makes this an unattractive industry for UK-born workers to work in leading to a dependence on migrants who may have few better work opportunities.”

The report suggests that after Brexit, EU workers should be subject to the same visa rules as other migrants. The Committee recommends higher-skilled migrants should have greater access with visas only given to workers earning £30,000 or more. It said it was ‘not convinced there needs to be a work route for low-skilled workers’ from the EU’ While acknowledging the contribution of migrant workers, the report warns that making it easier to hire overseas workers would not necessarily make it easier to retain them as they too could be attracted to higher wage jobs.

The Independent Care Group (ICG) has called for care workers to be recognised as skilled workers post-Brexit.