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Jim Kane responds to this week’s manifestos

Jim Kane, Community Integrated Care’s Chief Executive Officer, comments on the 2024 General Election and the launch of this week’s party manifestos.

“Three months ago, we launched the third instalment of our groundbreaking Unfair To Care report, ‘Who Cares Wins’, providing an independent assessment of the frontline Support Worker role, and evaluating its true value across sectors. Our research proved that the role is a skilled, complex and accountable one, equivalent to a Band 3 NHS worker but paid thousands of pounds a year less.

As we released the report, we called (and hoped) for a 2024 General Election campaign where the challenges facing our sector, and the positive impact of social care in people’s lives, made it to the top of the political agenda; discussed by leaders of all parties, extensively reported in the media and becoming a national topic of conversation.

Yet, with the main political parties’ manifestos now published, and the halfway point reached in the earlier than expected General Election campaign, it’s possible to make an initial assessment: whilst it’s not been a bad start, it could have been so much better – but there’s still time for improvement in these next three weeks!

Yes, we’ve been pleased to see that social care has – if only by its fingertips – made its way into manifestos and debate, but there remains a notable gap between the reform we’ve collectively been asking for – and so desperately need – and some of the policies outlined this week. Of course, some manifestos go further than others, with plans of making social care sustainable through pay uplifts for care and support workers, professionalisation of careers and the creation of a workforce plan are welcome news. But without an indication of how these long-overdue solutions will be properly funded, or a timeline of when they will be delivered, many pledges simply lack the substance and sense of urgency that is truly needed.

Disappointingly for me, not one party has grasped the fundamental issue of parity of pay between employees in two complementary and increasingly integrated parts of the health and wellbeing sector. This is despite that fact that it is an obvious and necessary solution to a long running problem.

What I will say is this, I remain hopeful: with three weeks until Polling Day, there’s still plenty of time for the debate to ignite – especially in the media where there have been some excellent reports – and for the improvement of pay and recognition for social care workers, including parity between NHS and social care employees, to be seen as a win.

Polling from our 2024 Unfair To Care report revealed that 70% of adults in England believe that social care workers should earn the same as their NHS equivalents and that 87% believe that the shortage of care workers is an important issue for society. Clearly, the general public is aware, engaged, and motivated to find a solution for social care’s challenges.

Fixing these issues provides huge opportunity; delivering better lives for people who deliver and draw on care, enabling cost-effective and sustainable care and health services and unlocking economic growth and productivity. As our Unfair To Care report demonstrates, fair pay is not a cost, but an investment that will bring real returns across the country.”

Community Integrated Care calls on the future Government to:

  • IMMEDIATELY: Provide an immediate and fair pay rise to all frontline social care workers.
  • WITHIN 12 MONTHS OF THE 2024 GENERAL ELECTION: Deliver a fair pay deal supported by national funding.
  • WITHIN THE LIFETIME OF THE NEXT PARLIAMENT: Create a new national workforce plan to make social care a viable, respected and sustainable career.

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