Pay rise for Edinburgh carers expected from next week - but councillor says it 'shouldn't have taken a pandemic' to make it happen

A 3.3 per cent pay rise for care workers across Scotland could be delivered from next week - but critics say it should not have taken the coronavirus pandemic for it to happen.

Last month, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman announced the hike for care home and social workers and said the cash would be included in their next pay packet, backdated to April 1st.

But more funding is needed to make this happen, and the Scottish Government says it is “committed” to paying it but remains in discussions with councils over how much is required.

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Health Secretary Jeane Freeman made the announcement in April.
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Measures agreed with local authority umbrella body Cosla would ensure everyone providing adult social care would receive the Real Living Wage of £9.30 per hour.

The ‘absolute minimum they deserve’

However Colinton and Fairmilehead councillor, Scott Arthur (Scottish Labour), says it should not have taken a pandemic for a pay rise for carers to happen in a local authority like Edinburgh, where the sector is heavily underfunded.

Mr Arthur said: "The Evening News deserves great credit for the work it has done in recent years to raise awareness of the social care crisis our capital has been facing.

"The pandemic has further highlighted, however, just how important social care workers are. Frankly, I think that it is incredible that it took a pandemic for the Scottish Government to offer care workers the living wage - it is the absolute minimum they deserve.

"The revelation that the service is so underfunded in Scotland's capital that care workers did not immediately get the pay rise is an insult to the staff which should shame us all. I am hopeful that as well as funding the pay rise, the Scottish Government will now fully fund social care provision in Edinburgh."

But a Scottish Government spokesperson described this as an “entirely mistaken assertion.”

The spokesperson said that, since October 2016, the government has provided funding to enable adult social care workers to be paid a Real Living Wage for daytime hours, a move which they say benefitted up to 40,000 people in the social services sector. In 2018/19, this commitment was extended to include those doing overnight social care support.

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The spokesperson continued: “The commitment covers adult social care workers providing direct care and support to adults in care homes, care at home, day care and housing support.

“Revised guidance to support this continued implementation of the commitment was issued in October 2019. This year we are also providing more than £800 million for social care and integration, which also includes further specific funding for local authorities to ensure adult social care staff are paid the living wage. The agreement to meet additional costs to ensure a 3.3 per cent contract uplift is in addition to this.”

In recent years, The Evening News has pledged to keep highlighting problems in social care and to provide informed opinion on potential solutions until the Capital's care crisis is resolved.

Green councillor, Gavin Corbett, says he put forward a fully funded budget proposal four years ago to pay carers a ‘Living Wage Plus.’ He said: “In today’s terms that would be not less than £10.05 an hour, more than many staff are getting now, although they are right at the frontline of the coronavirus crisis.

“Even then it was obvious that care workers carried responsibility far beyond what they were being paid. Unfortunately the Labour-led council at the time rejected that proposal. However, in 2020, care workers need much more than a weekly clap. Their work needs to be recognised in what they get paid.”

A briefing sent to councillors this week from the chief officer of the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership suggested additional funding in the region of about £5 million would be needed to fund an across the board 3.3 per cent pay increase on all of their contracts – but this has not been finalised.

The Scottish Government spokesperson said: "The Scottish Government has agreed to fund the additional costs required to meet this commitment.

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"We are working closely with Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership on delivering the payments and have every expectation that these hard working social care staff will be paid at least the new Real Living Wage of £9.30 backdated to 1 April."

An Edinburgh City Council spokesperson said: "We recognise the importance of compensating health and social care workers suitably for the key roles they undertake.

“Planning is well underway to implement the 3.3% salary uplift outlined by the Scottish Government in April and we have been working closely with them to finalise the funding arrangements which underpin this commitment.

“Once the supporting funds have been confirmed by the Scottish Government, we will action the uplift."

There are 85 care homes in the Capital and a total of 353 residents in council partnership homes alone.