KATE Forbes’ 48 pence hourly pay increase for social care staff has been labelled “derisory” for a sector facing a job recruitment and retention crisis.

In setting out her draft Scottish Budget, the Finance and Economy Secretary insisted that “the principle of fair work is a cornerstone” of her Government’s economic strategy.

She said: “I recognise the challenges presented by inflation and rising living costs, and also the huge effort the public sector has made in responding to the pandemic.

“In October, the Government announced an uplift in pay for social care workers to £10.02 per hour.

“Today, I can announce a minimum wage floor of £10.50 per hour across all bodies covered by the pay policy, with specific funding to apply this for adult social care staff.”

READ MORE: Scottish Budget Recap: Kate Forbes sets out spending plans after UK funding increase

Labour’s health and social care spokesperson, Jackie Baillie, warned “there is a huge and growing workforce crisis in social care because of the endemic low pay”.

She added: “In that context, an increase of 48 pence is derisory for the work that social care workers do.

“These were the people on the front line of the pandemic, these were the people caring for our loved ones, these were the people who we clapped for every Thursday evening.

“So why have the SNP and the Greens - who put this in their manifesto - not listened to the trade unions, the social care employers and those who receive care that there needs to be an uplift immediately of £12 per hour from next year?”

Ms Baillie stressed that “this is the second Budget in a row that we have asked for this”, adding that “it’s costed, it’s affordable, without raising a single penny in income tax”.

She said: “Or is the truth that the SNP and the Greens simply do not believe that social care workers are worth it?”

But Ms Forbes argued that “Jackie Baillie will know that it has been costed”.

She added: “What the Labour party has been calling for is £15 per hour, which will cost £1.8 billion.

“So we have chosen, over the course of this year, to increase the social care pay to £10.02 per hour as a priority and now increase it to £10.50 per hour. That is 48 pence per hour, per week, towards social care workers.

“It is a priority that we have, it is higher than the National Minimum Wage, it is higher than the Real Living Wage, because we believe in the importance of our carers – not just as part of ensuring that the health service can continue with the challenges it faces, but also to ensure that we recognise and value the work that our social care workers do.”

Scottish LibDem leader, Alex Cole-Hamilton, added: "A 48 pence increase for social care staff isn’t going to deliver the transformation the sector so desperately needs and won’t stop the workforce shortages.

"We need to get on with powerful national bargaining to secure real change, not tie the sector up in years of discussions around a National Care Service."