Open letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care from the Care Workers Charity, The Care Provider Alliance and Relatives & Residents Association.
6th April 2022
Dear Secretary of State,
We are writing to you to warn you about the consequences of the recent changes to Covid measures which will have a direct negative impact on the lives and wellbeing of people who use social care and those who work in it – people’s lives are at risk.
The guidance, which took effect this week, contains an expectation for social care workers to continue to self-isolate if they test positive for COVID-19, potentially up to a period of 14-days, without guaranteed full sick pay as the government has removed the funding that enabled this. This is presenting an impossible choice for care workers who are being forced to choose between their wellbeing and that of their families, and those that they provide care and support to. No other part of society is being forced to make such a choice.
The quality of care received by people is being heavily impacted by workforce issues caused by COVID and government guidance. Overtired care workers that are desperately worried about their finances cannot be expected to deliver great care. This will make the workforce crisis worse. According to Skills for Care, the vacancy rate in social care reached 9.8% in February 2022, up from 6% in March 2021. If the government removes the financial support to ensure all workers receive full sick pay while isolating, then it is likely many more will leave the sector. The knock-on implication is greater unmet need and more services handing back care packages because they don’t have the staff.
In just the first four weeks of this year The Care Workers’ Charity paid over £113,000 to 206 care workers in Covid grants which provides support to those in dire financial pressure who need to self-isolate. Demand for this support grows day by day at the same time as the available funding is shrinking. During 2020 and 2021 £2,585,519 was paid by the charity to 3,985 care workers. The demand is much greater than what the charity can support and it is unacceptable that care workers who do such important work should need charity to meet their basic needs. The need is now even greater due to the sheer scale of the cost of living crisis.
What needs to happen?
The government must act to ensure that people who use care and support get the care they deserve. This can be addressed by:
- In the short term, the government must reinstate the Infection Control and Testing Fund for as long as guidance remains in place requiring workers to isolate in order that they receive full pay Care workers remain some of the most skilled and dedicated workers in our society and yet are often the lowest paid.
- As the biggest purchaser of social care, central and local government must ensure that providers are funded adequately to enable proper pay, terms and conditions, including sick pay, for frontline social care workers.
Karolina Gerlich, CEO – The Care Workers’ Charity
Martin Green, Chair – The Care Providers Alliance
Helen Wildbore, Director – Relatives & Residents Association
Download a pdf of the letter here.