Increased pay for 1,800 social care workers in North West

Health and social care charity Alternative Futures Group (AFG) invests £4.6m in frontline health and social care staff in areas including Cheshire, Lancashire, Liverpool and Manchester. 

The pay increase will mean AFG care workers now earn a rate of £12 per hour – above the £11.44 rate for the National Living Wage (for those aged 21 and over) that came into effect on April 1. In fact, AFG raised pay by a total of £3.6m last year as part of a living wage increase in response to the spiralling cost of living. With the new £4.6m, total investment over the past two years is a sizeable £7.9m. 

A care worker and resident sat on a green lawn

Photo courtesy AFG

AFG provides specialist support for people a learning disability or mental health condition. Its staff currently care for 800 such people and the charity aims to increase provision to 1,000 people by 2026. Pay is a key element in achieving that aim – and a major concern of the wider sector.   

Evidence in the Unfair to Care report published in March shows that charity care workers are paid nearly £8,000 less than their direct equivalents in the public and private sectors. This pay gap poses a considerable challenge to the sector. In the North West, where AFG operates, more than 152,000 vacancies are unfilled and there is a 28.3% workforce turnover. Skills for Care estimate that, across the UK, a further 650,000 social carers will be needed by 2035 to meet demand. 

Significant underfunding in the sector over the past few years and other factors such as Covid and Brexit have contributed to difficulties across the whole UK sector. A recent survey of care sector staff revealed that many rely on loans, second jobs and food banks. 

Kirsty Murphy, CPO and COO for AFG

Kirsty Murphy, CPO and COO for AFG

Kirsty Murphy, CPO and COO for AFG, says: ‘As part of AFG’s growth plans we must invest in our people and ensure our offer attracts new talent and retains the best. The industry is woefully underfunded and is consequently in crisis whereby carers are unable to afford to put food on the table. Councils do not pay enough to support payment of Real Living Wage and providers are having to call on reserves to support the social care workforce, ensuring it still exists to provide support to the most vulnerable.  

‘Our commitment to our hard-working staff, recognising they are critical to the success of the organisation and the sector is unwavering.’ 

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