The UK will need to attract and train 1.6m health and social care workers in order to avoid post-Brexit shortages, a policy thinktank has said.
The IPPR said an ambitious workforce strategy was required to tackle poor working conditions and sub-standard care.
Clare McNeil, IPPR associate director for families and work, said: “Social care services will need to change drastically in order to deal with the growing demand for adult care services due to our ageing population and a post-Brexit migration system.
“These challenges cannot be addressed without a sustainable funding solution for social care, for example by raising National Insurance (NI) contributions for employees and employers by 1 per cent. Persistent underfunding in the adult social care sector has led to a reliance on a low-paid, often poorly trained workforce, with care workers some of the lowest paid workers in the country.
“The sector will have a huge challenge on its hands to recruit enough workers to keep pace with demand, particularly with expected lower levels of migration. We are calling for a radical change in workforce strategy – both to improve working conditions to attract more workers and to raise standards in the sector.”
Around 60,000 social care workers are EU migrants with an uncertain future.
The IPPR added: “The level of quality and training of care workers in the UK is significantly lower when compared to similar economies and poor workforce conditions mean that the sector struggles to recruit, train and retain workers with the skills to deliver high standards of care.”
The thinktank highlighted high levels of user dissatisfaction, rising numbers of abuse cases and an increasing number of providers requiring improvement.
Alongside additional funding, IPPR calls for effective minimum standards of training and qualifications to raise the quality of care, better conditions for workers enforced through a stronger CQC in partnership with HM Revenue and Customs and an industrial strategy for care with a focus on innovation, including stimulating the potential of new technology to improve productivity.