Hundreds of care jobs unfilled in Northumberland last year

​Hundreds of adult social care posts were unfilled on any given day in Northumberland last year, according to new figures.

By Katie Williams,
Tuesday, 27th October 2020, 3:38 pm
Care providers struggled to fill posts in Northumberland last year
Care providers struggled to fill posts in Northumberland last year

The Care Provider Alliance said more needs to be done to recruit, support and retain staff in the sector – warning that low pay is a major issue – and the call follows a report from charity Skills for Care, which estimates the sector will need to recruit 520,000 extra jobs nationally by 2035 to keep up with the ageing population.

Figures provided by the charity show there were around 8,300 adult social care jobs in the area in 2019-20 – but an estimated vacancy rate of seven per cent, mean an average 590 posts were unfilled at any one time.

The staff turnover rate in the area was 26% last year.

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Nationally, the turnover rate hit 32%.

Figures include local authority employees and those in the independent sector, but exclude NHS staff.

Kathy Roberts, chairman of the Care Provider Alliance, which brings together trade associations representing adult social care providers said: "The Skills for Care report reminds us that, despite improved awareness, much needs to be done to ensure we have sufficient numbers of well-supported care workers right now, and in the future.

"We want to see structured career pathways that ensure working in care is an attractive profession.

"Retail staff on average earn 24p more an hour than a care worker, raising concerns about the wider issues on pay."

Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said councils are still facing a recruitment and retention "crisis" in social care.

“Urgent action is needed for the care workforce including on pay, professionalisation, skills and training," he added.

Care Minister Helen Whately said the Skills for Care report shows the challenge of recruiting and keeping staff, and added adult social care careers are being promoted to jobseekers.

She said: “We are supporting care providers through the pandemic with the costs of pay for staff required to self-isolate, and so no care worker should lose income as a result of the requirement to only work in one location."