Care staff across Blackburn with Darwen and the wider Lancashire area are to receive a pay rise following a multi-million-pound investment.

Health and social care charity, Alternative Futures Group (AFG), is bucking the national trend with a significant pay boost for more than 1,800 health and social care workers at sites across the North-West, as part of a large-scale investment in its workforce.

This includes 289 care staff working across East Lancashire, 84 of whom are working within Blackburn with Darwen supported living services; and 425 staff who are commissioned by Lancashire County Council.

The investment of £4.6m has been committed by the Trustees of AFG to frontline staff who provide critical support to those most vulnerable in the community.

The latest pay rise, which will take AFG care workers hourly rate to £12 per hour, is in addition to a £3.6m living wage increase the charity made last year in response to the spiralling cost of living.

The total investment over two years now stands at £7.9m.

Lancashire Telegraph: Kirsty Murphy, chief operating officer for AFG Kirsty Murphy, chief operating officer for AFG (Image: AFG)

Kirsty Murphy, chief operating officer for AFG said: “As part of AFG’s growth plans we must invest in our people and ensure our offer attracts new talent and retains the best.

“The industry is woefully underfunded and is consequently in crisis whereby carers are unable to afford to put food on the table.

“Councils do not pay enough to support payment of Real Living Wage and providers are having to call on reserves to support the social care workforce, ensuring it still exists to provide support to the most vulnerable.

“Our commitment to our hard-working staff, recognising they are critical to the success of the organisation and the sector is unwavering.”

Following the launch of the recent Unfair to Care report it was revealed that charity care workers are paid almost £8,000 less than their direct equivalents in both the public and private sectors.

The pay gap poses a real challenge to the sector with more than 152,000 vacancies in the North-West unfilled and a 28.3 per cent workforce turnover.

The industry has experienced significant underfunding for several years, leading to a stark challenge across the whole of the UK.

Lancashire Telegraph: Support worker Amadu Kpuusuu supporting NigelSupport worker Amadu Kpuusuu supporting Nigel (Image: Alternative Futures Group)

A recent staff survey highlighted the desperate need for an increase in sector pay as many were having to rely on loans, second jobs and food banks to survive.

Recruitment to the care industry is the lifeline to many families and individuals dealing with educational and mental health and wellbeing issues.

Skills for Care is estimating a further 650,000 social carers will be needed by 2035 to meet UK demand.

AFG cares for 800 people with learning disabilities and mental health conditions and aims to increase the provision of care to more than 1,000 people by 2026.