National Living Wage rises 'putting learning disability care jobs at risk'

Updated: 

Tens of thousands of people who care for people with learning disabilities could face losing their jobs unless more money is pumped into the sector, a charity has warned.

By 2020, rises in the National Living Wage (NLW) will add an extra £460 million to wage bills in the sector, according to a new report by the learning disability charity Hft.

Workers over 25 have seen an increase from £6.70 to £7.20 in minimum pay per hour because of the NLW, which came into force in April - this is set to rise to around £9 by per hour by 2020.

This means the UK learning disability care sector can expect an increase in wage bills of 10.2% in the next four years, the report found.

If there is no funding increase for the sector, as many as 10% of the jobs in the sector could be at risk purely from the NLW increase, the authors said.

This equates to around 30,000 jobs, Hft said.

Charity chief executive Robert Longley-Cook said: "Hft wholeheartedly supports the introduction of the NLW as we believe staff should be rewarded for the excellent work they do.

"However, we have grave concerns about its implementation at local and Westminster level.

"The social care sector is an industry facing increasing demands and decreasing margins.

"This situation is simply unsustainable and could ultimately lead to some of the most vulnerable adults in society ending up without the vital support that they need."

A Government spokeswoman said: "The Government is committed to building an economy that works for all and the National Living Wage is doing just that, with more than one million workers already benefiting from a pay rise.

"In a growing economy, the National Living Wage should represent an opportunity to invest in talented staff and improve productivity."