Why is care worker pay low?

If what we value above all else is love and family, then doesn’t that make the people who care for our family in their time of need intrinsically valuable? And if that is the case, why is it almost always the case that care worker pay is usually the national living wage. Sometimes, in valiant effort to show how valued we are, maybe 10 pence more!

There are very many variables as to why carers are low paid and it is not because, as the government have classed us, we are “unskilled”.

Here are a few of the reasons why I believe care workers are underpaid;

  1. Government funding
  2. Care providers being bought by equity firms
  3. Entry level position

Government funding

It is no secret that our population is getting older and this is putting direct pressure onto services. Over the next 10 years we can expect to see a significant increase in that pressure. Therefore, it is imperative to address the issue of underfunding social care now.

Care funding has been stripped back to it bare bones and with that has gone care providers ability to invest in training, the services they deliver, and carer pay.

The government had suggested it would publish a green paper on social care. Which would give people inside and outside of parliament the opportunity to provide feedback to the department on its policies and proposals. However, they seem to have decided they do not want to have that conversation. Last year it was hinted that the green paper will be scrapped.

The funding services receive have a direct impact on care providers ability to pay a rate that does more than just pay bills.

Care providers being run by equity firms

 We are seeing more care providers being run by private equity firms. Where the sole goal is to reduce costs to a minimum, profits to a maximum and eventually sell off at a heft profit.

The three biggest care home providers run over a thousand care homes between them, here’s who owns them.

HC-One is the biggest care home company in the UK and is owned by Libra Intermediate. They in turn are owned by FC Skyfall LP.

Fourseasons which manages 300 homes is owned by Terra Firma Capital Partners. They also own Brighterkind and The Huntercombe Group.

Barchester Healthcare is the only, and therefore the largest, independent group amongst this list. They run over 200 care homes across the UK.

Because of this we are seeing more managers coming under pressure to run care homes more as a profitable business than a home for our vulnerable community.

Entry level position

There are no formal qualifications required to become a care worker. Although we have the care certificate for people new to care and nvq’s for those that have experience.

As you will have seen recently, the government has termed us “unskilled”. This is largely because of the lack of a piece of paper which says you are qualified.

This is the most disappointing reason to be underpaid of the three because there is nothing more valuable than dignity and respect during care. A price cannot be put on empathy and compassion.

In conclusion, we are undervalued because care workers have skills that cannot be taught and there lies all the “qualification” we need to justify better pay, that allows us to live and not just survive.

This blog is being continually developed as we learn more about what impacts care worker pay and how this can be improved.