The English social care sector: The vexed questions of low wages and stress

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Abstract

This chapter provides detailed analysis of working conditions, wages and the role of gender and migrants in the social care sector in England. It is based on empirical studies on the English social care workforce spanning 2010 to 2015. England has seen a continued trend of austerity measures adopted by the then Coalition Government since 2010 and continued by the Conservative Government in 2015. Austerity measures combined with progressive policies towards personalization and pro-European immigration policies have shaped a new structure of care service delivery where marketization has stimulated the demand for low cost caring labour. This has created a precarious working environment with regressive employment conditions affecting more than a million of care workers. The analysis starts by providing an overview of the characteristics of the social care workforce highlighting the significance of gender and migration in the recruitment and retention to the care sector. It then provides detailed analysis of working conditions and wages demonstrating how care workers are denied their legal right of a national minimum wage. The analysis then offers details on bridges required to cross the gap to achieve the legal minimum national minimum wage and then to achieve the aspired-to living wage. Wider implications related to working conditions including workload, contractual agreements and training are examined in relation to the increased demand on this workforce to have greater knowledge and deliver more. With women and migrant workers being the backbone of this workforce there are implications for the wellbeing of workers as well as the quality of care provision. The potential impact of these structural changes on workers’ stress and life work balance are examined using findings from targeted surveys and qualitative interviews.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRoutledge
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2016

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