Paying social care workers “poverty wages” is holding back the economy, Labour warns today as it steps up calls to lift staff’s rate to £10 an hour.
Deputy leader Angela Rayner, a former carer, will say that giving the front line workers a wallet boost will mean “every extra pound” is spent in local businesses and high streets – not “squirrelled away in an offshore account”.
She will tell the Unison Women’s Conference a rise for social care “heroes” is “well overdue” and the “least that they deserve” after the last year facing coronavirus.
Ms Rayner will say: “Claps didn’t pay the bills last year and it should be a source of shame for Tory ministers that the very same people who have been putting their lives on the line to care for others throughout this crisis are being paid poverty wages that mean they are struggling to support themselves and their own families.
“Last year the Prime Minister and his Cabinet fell over themselves to clap for our carers.
“It’s now well past time for the Government to give our care workers, and all of our key worker heroes, the pay rise they deserve to at least £10 an hour.
“It isn’t just morally wrong that so many of our care workers do not earn a wage that they can live on, it is also holding back our economy.
“These pay rises wouldn’t be squirrelled away in an offshore account – every extra pound in the pocket of an underpaid key worker will be spent in local businesses, on their local high street and will help to secure our economy.”
The Government’s National Living Wage – which is in fact the legal minimum – is just £8.72 an hour for workers aged 25 and over, falling to £8.20 for those aged between 21 and 24, and only £6.45 for those aged 18 to 20.
Labour said increasing social care workers’ pay to £10 an hour would give a 25-year-old an extra £2,500 a year while a 24-year-old would receive another £3,500 per year.
Ms Rayner will also say it is a “disgrace” that some care workers are paid less than the minimum wage because they are not paid for time spent travelling between visits.
Long-promised Tory proposals to overhaul social care have failed to materialise.
Speaking outside No10 on the day he became Prime Minister in July 2019, Boris Johnson pledged: “I am announcing now – on the steps of Downing Street – that we will fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan we have prepared to give every older person the dignity and security they deserve.”
However, he has yet to reveal a blueprint.
The Mirror’s Fair Care for All campaign calls for proper investment in the sector.
A Government spokeswoman said: “We understand the pressure the pandemic has placed on many workers, especially in the social care sector, and we are incredibly grateful for their tireless efforts.
“The Government does not set social care worker pay.
“However, the increase to the National Minimum and Living Wages from April will benefit around two million of the UK’s lowest-paid workers, and means someone working full-time on the National Living Wage could get an extra £345 per year.”