The price of things to come…

Well, I entered a new decade last week. I hit 40. Along with the inspiring ‘life begins at…’ and the very droll ‘you’re now officially old and over the hill’ cards, I received one with the run down of what happened in my year of birth and the cost of living…

1975 – quite a significant year, even if I do say so myself. Computer hobbyists Stephen Wozniak and Steve Jobs begin working on computer designs. They developed the Apple 1 prototype. Thank the Lord they did, where would be without iAnything?! The film ‘Jaws’ was released. Rubik’s cubes and mood rings hit the shops.

A loaf of bread cost 16p, a pint of milk was 7p, petrol was 16p a litre, the average house price was £12,097 and the average wage was £60.80 for men, £37.40 for women.

Here we are now in 2015. Of course incomes have risen but as we all know so has the cost of living. The proposed increase in the national living wage level has its merits and its pitfalls. Huge gaping pitfalls actually and is a deep and real concern for our sector.

In one respect, it may well help increase the level of staff retention in a sector that needs to attract more and more staff. One school of thought is it could ‘potentially lead to higher job satisfaction and thus in turn facilitate higher quality, attentive care and support, leading to an increase in the overall quality of services’. Please discuss.

But, will the funding available from local authorities increase in line with the wage bill? Some organisations are realising that they wouldn’t be able to operate at the new proposed levels unless their source of funding also increases, simple as that. Scary thought, for so so many reasons!

It is also worth mentioning the differential between staff on the minimum wage and more senior staff with greater responsibilities, who currently earn a little more, must be maintained if providers want to keep them, increasing the wage bill even more.

To expect providers to find the money to pay the living wage in the current funding and provision landscape is completely unrealistic.

The impact of the living wage increase is far reaching and cannot be ignored or underestimated. Have a read of the Anthony Collins briefing – ‘The Budget – what it means for social care providers’

A number of members have already fed back their concerns to us. What do you and your organisation feel about these developments? We want to know. ARC will be tackling these issues through our sector alliances and by using our ‘voice’ to talk to the powers that be. We will be speaking with Local Authorities too to ask them how they see the proposed changes affecting the sector and the million dollar question, what can they do about it? And what can they do, we will be asking Mr. Osborne. Clearly, shrinking the social care budget is only compounding the issue and pressurising a sector that is being pushed to its limits and beyond.

We will as ever keep you up to date with what we are doing.

I have just noticed my mood ring is a very dark shade of blue…wonder what that means…

Lisa, aged 40.