Bath MP Wera Hobhouse asked the Prime Minister at PMQs whether he would back the Liberal Democrats proposed higher minimum wage for carers. It would improve recruitment and retention rates in the sector as vacancies have spiked in recent years, spiralling to over 15,000 in the South West. The Prime Minister refused to back the plan.
In her question to the Prime Minister, Mrs Hobhouse highlighted the efforts of the Royal United Hospital in Bath and the Liberal Democrat led B&NES Council who have worked effectively together. By using innovative solutions to the pressures they are improving the situation significantly.
However, the Bath MP noted that a sustainable solution to the workforce crisis is needed and the only way that can happen is with initiative from the central Government. It comes as the latest figures from the South West reveal that the region has more than 15,000 job vacancies in the social care sector, meaning there is a vacancy rate of 10.5%.
These chronic staff shortages are leading to patients being left stuck in hospitals waiting for social care, contributing to record-breaking waits in A&E and dangerous ambulance delays.
Under the Liberal Democrat plans, social care workers would be paid at least £2 an hour more than the current minimum wage, bringing their pay up to at least £11.50 an hour today – and £12.42 from this April. The proposals would benefit 135,000 people working in the social care sector in the South West.
In response to the MP for Bath’s question, the Prime Minister refused to back the plan. Instead, his focus was on the short term funding he had given the health and social care sector that is meant to deal with the current crisis. Without a long term recruitment and retention plan and making the care sector attractive to enter, it will be in a perpetual crisis due to staff shortages. Something that the Liberal Democrat proposal would rectify.
Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath, commented:
“The social care crisis is having a devastating impact on vulnerable people’s wellbeing, and contributing to record long waits at A&E and terrible ambulance delays.
“Fortunately in Bath, the Liberal Democrat Council and the Royal United Hospital have been working closely together and have improved things significantly. However, further afield in our region and nationally, too many people are stranded in hospital beds because there simply are not enough care workers to look after them at home or in a care home.
“The first step to fixing this mess is to pay those working in social care more, to prevent the exodus of workers from the sector. This is a skilled and crucial job and it should be paid more.”
“For the Prime Minister to not even acknowledge that the lack of pay is having a serious, detrimental impact on staff numbers shows his woeful ineptitude in handling the care service. Without the staffing levels required, the care sector is being stretched to breaking point nearly every day. It is not sustainable and the Prime Minister needs to realise this and get a grip.
“The Liberal Democrats have put forward a sustainable solution that would solve many of our problems but as always the Conservative Government prefers to sit on its hands rather than take decisive, meaningful action.”
Chamber recently hosted a discussion with Liberal Democrat MP, Wendy Chamberlain, who’s Private Members Bill to grant carers unpaid leave from work has recently passed it’s final stage in the House of Commons.
You can watch the discussion here: