People with autism who need around-the-clock assistance may ultimately lose support after a modest wage increase for social care staff by the Scottish government, a major charity warns.
Dolly McLaughlin, CEO of the Autistic Society of Scotland, said in a letter to Deputy Prime Minister John Sweeney and Health Secretary Humza Yousaf that her organization “currently are in serious danger,” he said.
This is partly because they “continue to bleed colleagues who are leaving us to move into higher paying roles, often within the NHS and local government”.
The minimum wage for adult social care workers is currently £10.50 an hour.
In last month’s budget, Mr Swinney announced an increase to £10.90 in April.
The Deputy Prime Minister said this would cost the government around £100 million.
“Social care is an important job and it’s important to support those on the front lines,” he told MSP.
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However, the 3.8% salary increase is well below the average 7.5% offered to NHS staff and the 5% offered to most local government employees.
Scotland’s autism problem is serious.
The charity provides supported living services across Scotland, providing up to 24-hour care and support in people’s homes to help them live as independently as possible. This often means three shifts a day, with two of her staff working each shift.
Labor shortages forced the charity to close its day service at Blue Central in Dunfermline, allowing it to redeploy staff to its 24/7 housing support service.
This was despite the charity bringing in costly agency staff to fill the gap.
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In a letter to ministers, Mr McLaughlin said:
“I see no evidence of the ability within local governments to provide a similar nature or quality of service if they are unable to provide services to individuals receiving assistance.”
She said the Scottish government needs to reconsider their wage settlement as a matter of urgency if it is to fulfill its promise of “equity of respect” between social care staff and health care workers.
“We are losing people to three main destinations: non-care roles, agency roles and NHS local government social care roles. The reason for this is simple.
“All of these destinations offer higher hourly rates than our commissioning rates can offer.
“Inequality is measured in pounds, not pence.
“And without the right resources and prioritization from the Scottish government, we see no sign of this ending.”
McLaughlin said the underrepresentation of Scottish government staff was “extremely underrepresented. [autistic] individuals in our society. ”
Labor Party leader Paul O’Kane said the SNP government was “undermining and underestimating the social welfare sector on all fronts”.
He added: “This disastrous wage increase will lead to substantial staff cuts, with ripple effects across the sector.
“SNP’s poor planning puts patient and staff safety at risk.It’s time for workers to raise their fair wages.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said the government had “failed to drive when it comes to social care”.
“We need all social workers to be paid a fair wage and to have the current government recruitment campaign overhauled, or critical services could be shut down soon. ”
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Social Care Minister Kevin Stewart said the sector “has suffered the triple whammy of Brexit, which has affected staffing, the pandemic, high energy and inflation costs”.
“The Scottish Government has committed to continue to take all available actions within its delegated responsibilities and budgets to address cost of living pressures.
“But fiscal pressures are at an all-time high and the books must be balanced amid growing demand for government support and intervention.
“From April 2023, adult social care workers providing direct care in a referral service will be paid a minimum of £10.90 an hour.
“With this £100m investment, the Scottish Government regularly raises £600m a year to pay for adult social care in contracted services.”