Extra £1 per hour pay uplift approved to support care staff in Nottinghamshire

By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter

Nottinghamshire County Council has approved a £1 per hour uplift on the amount it pays to care agencies to ensure key workers in the industry get a better rate of pay.

The move comes to address an imbalance in the staff turnover rate across care agencies and in-house staff at the authority, with the county seeing a 30 per cent turnover in care in recent months.

This has been put down, in part, due to issues resulting from the pandemic and newer businesses offering “better rates of pay and easier work” – including logistics and distribution warehouses.

Cabinet leaders say the move will help to recognise the “incredibly hard work” provided by care staff in Nottinghamshire and to address recruitment issues across the sector.

Councillor Matt Barney (Con), portfolio holder for adult social care, proposed the increase during the cabinet meeting on Thursday (July 14), which will come into effect from September after gaining unanimous approval.

Speaking in the meeting, he said: “We are suggesting the £1 per hour uplift to support an increase in pay from September 2022, costing somewhere in the region of £5 million.

“It’s absolutely the right thing to do because the staff need to be honoured and thanked for the work they do and I wish we could do more – it’s needed.”

He added: “This is difficult, tough work which is often not recognised and is often underpaid, as we all know, and this is about [recognising] those people.”

Council papers state there is currently “significant variation” in the pay received by care workers in the county, with some organisations paying the £9.50 minimum wage and the majority paying about £10 an hour.

And Cllr Mike Pringle (Lab), who represents Ollerton, welcomed the £1 hourly uplift and but accused the ruling Conservative Group of stealing Labour’s idea in its alternative budget proposals in February.

He said: “It’s a victory for common sense. The problems the care sector is facing are not news to us in the Labour Party; we proposed this very idea months ago in our fully-costed alternative budget back in February.

“Let’s not forget that the people who currently work in the care sector, including one of our own Labour councillors, have been heroes throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

“They were putting themselves in harm’s way to protect others and do at times very difficult work, all whilst being paid the minimum wage in many instances.”

In the meeting, Cllr Barney and Cllr Pringle debated over which political party proposed the uplift first.

Coming back on Labour’s suggestion that the policy was a U-turn following the alternative budget, he said discussions have been ongoing for almost a year about how to support care workers with better pay.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service after the meeting, Cllr Richard Jackson (Con), portfolio holder for finance, added: “We wanted to do homework to understand exactly where to spend this £5 million rather than doing it as a knee-jerk reaction.

“There’s this extra funding to give to these agencies to make sure it goes to the staff on the frontline. It’s easier to ensure it’s done with our own staff.”

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