Wirral’s care workers have been granted a continued pay boost as millions of pounds of council funds are committed to back a Real Living Wage.
Following a successful pay boost for frontline care staff last year utilising national funding, the council has approved its own investment of £5.9 million to support staff in the social care sector.
In May 2020 the council introduced an opportunity to incentivise care providers to pay the Real Living Wage (RLW) to their staff between 1 May 2020 and 31 March 2021.
The decision to continue to support the RLW was made and agreed at Wirral Council’s Adult Social Care and Health committee this month.
This initiative helped to support the local care market with the response to COVID-19, to attract and retain staff within the sector, and to recognise the valuable work undertaken during the pandemic by the social care workforce.
Cllr Yvonne Nolan, Chair of Wirral Council’s Adult Social Care and Public Health Committee, said, “Not only is the Real Living Wage about supporting our care workers at a time when we need them most, it’s also about a commitment to the social care sector, attributing a wage that matches the valuable work that they do 365 days a year, crisis or not.
“It is only right that we continue to support our social care workforce and recognise the importance of their role. They’ve been there for us throughout the pandemic, now it’s our turn to be there for them.”
Since the pay increase, providers noted an uplift in the amount of candidates showing an interest in starting a career in social care.
Hazel Murphy, Registered Manager at Premier Care, said, “The role of a carer is more complex than ever, requiring a high level of training and skill. The equipment we use is ever more sophisticated to support the needs of individuals in receipt of care. The administration of medication also requires carers to be highly trained and vigilant at every call. The demands on the role of carers in the community increase whilst the perception of the role to those outside the sector is very different.
“With this funding, we have been able to offer ‘business as usual’ with a ‘cherry on top’. The funding has supported providers like ourselves to pay the Real Living Wage to our care staff.
“Not only has this attracted more new applicants, it has improved care staff retention rates.
“We are thrilled that providers are able to continue to offer the Real Living Wage to a sector deserving to be recognised and valued. The facilitation of the Real Living Wage funding has enabled us to do this, thanks to Wirral Council and partners and their ongoing support.”
Others felt they were leading by example by being able to better support their employees.
Gary Nagle, Director of Operations at Professional Carers, said, “Paying a workforce far above the national minimum wage not only attracts new employees into the organisation, it differentiates us from other industries. We are leading by example and enhancing our reputation as an employer in Wirral.
“The Real Living Wage promotes a workforce who feel appreciated, motivated and valued for the hard work they undertake. The work of a care assistant can sometimes be overlooked. I feel ethically it is time to show how much we appreciate and value the loyal and dedicated staff working in Health and Social Care and I would like to thank Wirral Council for supporting us in doing just that.”
A group of carers from Granville Court extra care scheme said, “We were so thankful that Wirral Council and partners recognised our sector for the very challenging circumstances we found ourselves in, especially at the height of the pandemic. To receive the Real Living Wage ensured we could provide services without worrying. It made us feel valued.
“The recognition is greatly appreciated and we are sure our lovely service users were all happy that we were able to remain in work.
“Thank you Wirral Council and Premier Care for all that you have done.”
If providers wish to discuss support to take up the Real Living Wage for their staff, they can contact their local contracts manager or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Main Image: Care Coordinators from Professional Carers Wirral, Nina McCarthy, Kerri Jones and Katie Bennett.