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The Scottish Living Wage – looking forward

October 19, 2017 CEO blog Theresa Shearer

Only yesterday, I wrote in the Times ‘Thunderer’ column that to achieve the best social care, we have to commit to paying our social care staff better. This article was published alongside the latest in a long line of reports from public bodies – this time from the Care Inspectorate – highlighting the scale of the recruitment and retention challenges in social care.

Today, the Scottish Government made the announcement that all frontline care staff will receive the Scottish Living Wage for every hour worked from 2018/19 – regardless of whether this is during the day or night.

This is a huge step change for our social care workforce in Scotland, and something which ENABLE Scotland has been campaigning to achieve for a long time.

There are many reasons for our sustained work on this issue, but – as with most campaigns – the motivation that has driven us forward is both simple and powerful: achieving equal pay for all hours worked is the right thing to do.

We are in no doubt that making this commitment a reality will be tough. There is no indication of additional funding from the Scottish Government to support this commitment, as there has been for the last two years around achieving the Scottish Living Wage for waking hours. This undoubtedly presents a challenge.

But that should not detract us from agreeing that this is simply the right thing to do. For too long, staff who provide vital overnight support to some of our most vulnerable citizens have been paid less than their colleagues who work daytime hours.

And for people who have complex learning disabilities who have traditionally had overnight support, this pay anomaly has made it even harder to recruit and retain the best quality staff to support them to live independently in their own homes.

With today’s announcement, the Scottish Government has confirmed that the contribution of these hard working professionals is both valued and respected. It has also served to ignite discussion and debate, which will continue for the weeks and months ahead as we get ready to implement this commitment across the country.

Yes – it is not going to be easy. But it sets the message loud and clear that every hour of our social care workforce’s time at work is valued equally. And for anyone currently working in social care, or thinking about joining the social care workforce to earn a living whilst making a real difference to someone’s life – this is the message they need to hear.

In common with our colleagues across the sector, ENABLE Scotland recognises that there are many vital elements to consider as we work to turn today’s commitment into reality. In particular, as CEO of ENABLE Scotland, I am very concerned that as we consider how to deliver the Scottish Living Wage for all hours worked, we cannot tolerate any suggestions of moves backwards to institutionalised care settings for people who have a learning disability who require overnight support. It is 2017, and we have many alternative models available to us – and many still to develop.

As providers and commissioners, we have a shared responsibility to resist any risk of regressing to institutionalised models of care for vulnerable citizens who require overnight support, and instead come together to think creatively about how to make this change work. I for one am committed to offering and sharing insights to that process, as are my colleagues here at ENABLE Scotland as we work towards implementing the change.

Over the coming transition period into 2018/19, I look forward to working with our partners across the sector to ensure we implement this change both responsibly and successfully – for the benefit of the social care workforce and the individuals they support so well – day and night.

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