Council directors are calling on the government to award and fund a £1,000 bonus over the winter period for social care workers in England.
They argue the bonus would recognise the loyalty of care workers through the Covid-19 pandemic and would help stem the loss of skilled and experienced staff to other types of work.
The call by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) is in response to reports from directors across England of care services struggling or breaking down because of staff shortages.
Its president Stephen Chandler said: ‘Paying a £1,000 bonus to care workers over the winter would show that we prize their skills and dedication as a society. It would send a strong signal to people that care work is a career that is respected and is going to be properly rewarded in future.
‘Unlike their counterparts in the rest of the UK, care workers in England have not been paid any government bonus for working through the pandemic.’
Care workers in both Scotland and Northern Ireland have been awarded a £500 bonus. Staff in Wales have been awarded two bonuses, one of £500 in May 2020 and a second of £735 in May this year.
There are about 1.5 million jobs in social care in England, but at least 105,000 of them are vacant. The cost of a one-off £1,000 bonus would be about £1.4bn.
In September, the government announced social care would receive £5.4bn of the £36bn that its new levy will raise during its first three years to help support the system. Earlier this month, it launched a recruitment campaign encouraging people to follow a career in adult social care.
Chandler said in the longer term ADASS wanted to see a minimum social care wage that was above the national living wage.
Rachel Harrison, GMB national officer, said while it was right to recognise the efforts of care workers, a one-off bonus was not the answer. ‘Care workers are highly skilled professionals, should be treated and paid as such,’ she said. ‘They deserve at least the average salary in the UK – £15 an hour, no less.’