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Cambridgeshire acts to boost pay, training and career advancement for vital local care workers

05 October 2023

A new initiative to drive up the quality of care and support offered to Cambridgeshire residents is to be launched by Cambridgeshire County Council.

The new workforce initiative for the adult social care workforce, supported by investment of over £1million, seeks to address problems of recruitment and retention in the sector. It aims to support skills development and drive up quality of services to both elderly residents and younger people with care and support needs.

Cambridgeshire County Council’s Adults and Health Committee approved an additional £845,000 for the procurement of further skills development opportunities as part of the initiative, when it met today (October 5).

The County Council has already sought to address low pay for care workers by requiring payment of the Real Living Wage by all care providers it has contracts with. The report to councillors stated that the Council will also seek to embed the new approach to build skills in the workforce into future contracts with care providers.

Currently, more than one-in-three local social care staff leave for different employment each year, above the national average, whilst 30 per cent of local care workers are employed on zero hours contracts. Cambridgeshire also has below the national average number of care workers holding or working towards recognised qualifications. Supporting skills development is key to securing a more stable workforce and the council is acting now to do that.

As part of the new offer, a high quality ‘Care Certificate’ will be offered by the Council at low cost to care providers and to care workers themselves. This will improve recognition of care workers skills as employers will have certainty about the quality of training they have received. As a result of the additional funding agreed today further skills development opportunities will be offered to support care workers to develop a career in care.

The report signals the County Council’s intention to maximise use of government support for skills in the sector pledged in 2021 but not yet implemented. By launching a skills initiative now, the Council will be well placed to offer further strong, targeted skills training directly to local care workers once implementation begins.

The Council aims for this to be the first part of a long-term programme to grow the number of skilled care workers to ensure it can meet the needs of the population of Cambridgeshire into the future. Support and funding will be sought by working with system partners such as the national organisation Skills for Care and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, as well as working with local health partners to develop skills offers and career pathways across the health and social care system.

The launch of the new Care Certificate and an associated ‘portal’ which will make it easy for care staff to find and record the training opportunities, is planned for November.

Councillor Richard Howitt, Chair of the Adults and Health Committee said: “Care workers are doing some of the most important jobs in our community by looking after frail and vulnerable elderly people and younger people with care and support needs. It is absolutely right that the County Council is seeking to ensure these workers get the training, pay and conditions which fully reflect the value of their work.

“We have taken the decision to move ahead with these plans now to avoid further delay in supporting this workforce. The failure to get national agreement to reform social care has resulted in a robust skills offer to this workforce not yet being implemented. This initiative in Cambridgeshire shows that it is possible to do better here, which is ultimately vital to ensure the best quality of support to the residents whom we serve.”