The National Living Wage will cause average annual wage growth for care homes of 4.7%, according to a study by health and care real estate consultant Christie & Co.
The care homes sector is facing a greater impact than almost every other employer in the UK because it employs such a high proportion of people on minimum wages.
Christie & Co’s research found that over 40% of care home staff earned less than £7.20 per hour in 2015. The average rate for care assistants in 2014/15 was £6.92, while senior carers earned £7.76.
The care industry faces a choice of whether to hold down wages of higher earners, such as qualified nurses and managers, or to maintain wage differentials up the ladder of job titles.
The rising National Minimum Wage will cause salaries for the worst paid to rise fastest, at an annual rate of 5.4% to £9 per hour by 2020, but this is likely to put pressure on wages all the way up the pay scale. It would make little sense, for example, for care assistants to be paid £9 per hour in 2020 and senior carer salaries to be frozen at the 2015 level of £7.76. This is why differentials are almost certain to be maintained, leading to the average annual rise of 4.7% through to 2020.