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Social Services

Department of Health written question – answered on 3rd November 2014.

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Photo of Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham Labour, Stockton North

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, whether his Department has made an assessment of or received evidence on the effect on care standards of non-payment of the national minimum wage in the social care sector.

Photo of Norman Lamb Norman Lamb The Minister of State, Department of Health

The Department has not conducted any recent research on the effect of treatment of staff on standards of care and on the relationship between levels of pay and quality of social care services.

As part of the development of Caring for our Future white paper in 2011, the Department undertook extensive engagement with both service users and carers who highlighted a range of issues they felt needed addressing to ensure high quality care and support is available. In addressing this, the Department, working with the Sector Skills CouncilSkills for Care – and other partners, has implemented a range of policies that has included setting out clear minimum training standards, recruiting more apprentices and supporting the transformation of the social work profession.

There are a number of factors that determine the quality of care provided in the social care sector, including the way staff are treated. Pay is not the single most significant factor in delivering high quality services.

The Department is clear however that care providers must abide by the law with regards to payment of the national minimum wage and is taking steps to ensure this happens. The Department is liaising with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to name and shame any social care providers who do not comply with the national minimum wage legislation and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs is continuing to carry out enforcement action in the social care sector and will investigate all complaints made by care workers that their employer is not paying them the national minimum wage. In addition, it is looking to ensure that the statutory guidance that will accompany the Care Act on commissioning and market shaping explicitly states local authorities should have evidence that contract terms, conditions and fee levels are appropriate to provide the agreed care packages with agreed quality of care.

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