Care at Home (Recruitment and Retention)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 23rd June 2022.

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Photo of Alex Rowley Alex Rowley Labour

4. To ask the Scottish Government what progress it is making to address the reported recruitment and retention problems in the delivery of care at home. (S6O-01279)

Photo of Kevin Stewart Kevin Stewart Scottish National Party

I thank Mr Rowley for raising this important issue. The social care workforce has experienced unprecedented challenge during the pandemic. The Scottish Government is committed to supporting social care providers to recruit and retain a skilled and fulfilled workforce.

My officials are working with local Department for Work and Pensions jobcentres to host a number of jobs fairs across Scotland. We have also approved funding to extend the myjobscotland recruitment website until September 2022.

Our most recent recruitment campaign, which ran during the winter, targeted a younger audience using social media. The data that we have received following evaluation of the campaign indicates that there were increased rates of young people entering the sector, which we will continue to encourage through work to improve career pathways.

I reiterate that we are fully committed to improving the experience of the social care workforce, including by improving pay and conditions. From April this year, we have provided funding to deliver a £10.50 minimum wage for adult social care staff in commissioned services.

Photo of Alex Rowley Alex Rowley Labour

When the Government launched its National Care Service (Scotland) Bill on Tuesday, Fiona Collie of Carers Scotland said:

“There need to be actions in the interim to actually make the changes that are needed. For example, investment in social care, investment in breaks for carers, investment in the people who deliver social care. There are huge pressures on health and social care and those pressures are falling on carers, and unless we do something now, we cannot wait five years for the bill to go through.”

Does the minister accept that the unequal treatment of care workers is a key reason for the recruitment and retention problems that we have, and that the only way that we will address that is by putting in resources now and starting to treat care workers properly? Otherwise, this problem will just get worse and worse.

Photo of Kevin Stewart Kevin Stewart Scottish National Party

I agree with Fiona Collie and Mr Rowley that we cannot wait until we have the national care service to resolve some of the issues that are in play at this moment. That is why the Government has paid for three pay rises in the past year—an increase of 12.9 per cent. In his question, Mr Rowley mentioned the right to breaks. That is built in to the NCS, but we cannot wait for that, which is why, in this financial year, we have put additional money into breaks for unpaid carers. That is the right thing to do.

We will continue to co-operate with partners, including the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, to ensure that we get this right as we move forward. We will not wait until NCS comes into play.