By Bill Heaney
The Dumbarton constituency MSP asked Humza Yousaf what immediate action the Scottish Government is taking to address the reported crisis in social care, in light of the letter from the Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland stating that the social care pay uplift is insufficient.
The First Minister replied: “I place huge value on those in our social care workforce and the exceptional care that they provide. I am fully committed to improving their pay.
“To reflect that, the £12 minimum pay rate from April 2024 represents an increase of more than 10 per cent from the £10.90 minimum rate that was introduced in April this year, and those workers have had a 14.3 per cent increase over the past two years.
“For workers in children’s services, who previously received the national minimum wage, the increase will represent a minimum increase in pay of 15.2 per cent compared with April 2023 levels. We are doing all that we can within the devolved responsibilities and budgets to address the cost of living pressures.
“However, as a result of 13 years of Tory austerity, there has never been greater pressure on our public finances. If only we had full powers over our budget, we would not have to be at the whim of an austerity-driven United Kingdom Government.”
Dame Jackie said: “I am pleased to hear how much the First Minister values social care. He will know that vacancies for social care staff are up and that turnover is up. Some providers are handing back contracts, because they are unable to deliver quality care due to a lack of staff.
First Minister Humza Yousaf and Labour health spokesperson Dame Jackie Baillie.
“The First Minister announced that social care pay would rise to £12 from April 2024, but that is now the up-rated rate for the real living wage, so any advantage has been eroded.
“Does the First Minister believe that social care staff deserve the bare minimum in pay? If not, will he include revised proposals in the budget to properly value our hard-working social care staff?”
But Humza Yousaf assured Dame Jackie: “We do value our hard-working social care staff, and that is why we have agreed to increase their pay by more than 10 per cent from the £10.90 minimum rate that was introduced in April this year.
“I fully accept, having engaged with the social care workforce, that they want us to go further and to go faster. I completely respect and understand that. We are, of course, constrained by our budget.
“I remind Jackie Baillie that it was her colleague Anas Sarwar who said that he had a presumption against income tax rises. Jackie Baillie seems to be asking us to increase significantly the pay of social care workers to £15 an hour.
“That would cost the Government an additional £1.2 billion. On the one hand, Jackie Baillie and the Scottish Labour Party are saying that we cannot raise revenue in any way, shape or form but, at the same time, we have to find £1.2 billion to increase the pay rate to £15 an hour.
“We will engage with the Scottish Labour Party. We are in the run-up to the budget. However, if Jackie Baillie is asking us to spend in the order of £1.2 billion, she has to tell us, if she has any credibility whatever, where we will find that money from.”