Care worker pay “absolutely unconscionable”, says Rayner

Elliot Chappell

Angela Rayner has described the level of pay for those working in the care sector as “absolutely unconscionable” after new analysis found that three quarters earned less than the real living wage on the eve of the pandemic.

Responding to research published by Citizens UK and the Living Wage Foundation today, Labour’s deputy leader urged the government to recognise the contribution of care workers in the Covid crisis by giving them a pay rise.

Analysis of the ‘Skills for Care’ data by the Living Wage Foundation found high levels of low pay just before the pandemic hit, with 604,168 of 832,393 (73%) employees paid less than the rate independently set by the organisation.

Commenting on care worker pay, Rayner said: “Ministers fell over themselves to pose for the cameras and clap our carers earlier this year, but applause doesn’t pay the bills and warm words don’t put food on the table.

“It is a moral outrage that three quarters of social care workers do not even earn the real Living Wage. This situation was wrong before this pandemic, but now it is absolutely unconscionable.”

London proved to be the worst region. The research by the Living Wage Foundation showed that in 20 of the 32 boroughs in the capital, nine in ten workers were receiving below the London living wage of £10.85 per hour.

Regions with the next highest proportion of staff not paid the real living wage (£9.50 outside of London) were the North East on 82% and the North West at 78%. The South East, with the lowest proportion, still had 54% not paid the real living wage.

The Labour deputy leader added: “After all that they have done for all of us, a pay rise is the very least that our care worker heroes deserve.”

Polling by Survation commissioned by Citizens UK has today revealed that eight in ten people (82%) in the UK support government investment in social care to fund a pay rise for staff working in the sector.

Asked by the research organisation what would be the fairest way to fund investment in the sector, 49% of respondents said they were in favour of taxes on wealth paid either by individuals or companies.

A ring-fenced tax for social care paid across the population was the second most popular choice, backed by 28%, while an increase in the rate of council tax proved least popular with the support of just 5% of people.

A report published by Age UK last week raised concerns over low pay and a sustained lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) throughout the Covid crisis, and highlighted the 122,000 care sector job vacancies needing to be filled.

Commenting on this report, Labour’s Liz Kendall said at the time that care workers have made “immense sacrifices” in the pandemic and urged the government to bring forward a “long-term plan for the care workforce”.

The shadow minister for social care said: “The Prime Minister must bring forward a plan to reform these vital services by the end of the year and make sure our care workforce get the recognition they deserve.”

Labour has repeatedly demanded that the government publish its plans to fix social care. Deputy leader Rayner called for a plan guaranteeing that all workers be paid at least the real living wage in September this year.

Boris Johnson has several times promised to reform social care since becoming Prime Minister. In his first speech after taking the role in July 2019, the Conservative Party leader pledged to “fix the crisis in social care once and for all”.

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