Carers and nurses were amongst those excluded from a pay rise of up to 3.1% for almost 900,000 public sector workers yesterday.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the above-inflation wage hike, which included doctors and teachers, was in recognition of their “vital contribution” during the coronavirus pandemic.
The government said nurses and junior doctors were excluded from the announcement because they had negotiated separate deals, while crime and policing minister, Kit Malthouse, told the BBC that because the vast majority of social care workers were employed in the private sector the government’s “ability to influence pay rates there is limited”.
The overlooking of care workers was greeted with dismay by care leaders and other stakeholders.
Vic Rayner, Executive Director of the National Care Forum said: “It is unacceptable for the government to side step the issue around social care workers pay in today’s announcement. Care workers have been a stalwart of the Covid front line and need recognition. This has never been a low skilled job, and should never again be consigned as a low paid role. We need the government to act now to ensure that each and every care worker is rewarded for their extraordinary work.”
The IPPR said it was “unjustifiable” for nurses and carers to be excluded from the pay boost.
The think-tank highlighted that almost half of social care workers received less than the Real Living Wage and called on the government to put guarantees in place for health and care pay.
In its April Care Fit for Carers report, the IPPR called for a COVID-19 pay rise of 10% for healthcare staff as well as more adequate sick pay provision and for social care workers to be paid in parity with NHS workers.
Chris Thomas, IPPR senior research fellow, said: “For seven austere years, the public sector pay freeze was a dereliction of duty by government. It has directly contributed to the workforce crisis we see in health and care today.
“Today was an opportunity to correct that failing and open pay negotiations across the NHS. It is unforgivable that after the remarkable bravery of all our healthcare heroes they would not receive fair pay. We urge the government to reconsider their exclusion.”
Edel Harris, Chief Executive of the learning disability charity Mencap, said the government’s announcement was an “insult” to support workers who have been “doing extraordinary work supporting the most vulnerable in our society in challenging circumstances throughout the coronavirus pandemic”.
She added: “Beyond gestures, such as the Care Badge and clapping for carers, support workers have seen little recognition for their incredible work on the frontline during this crisis. It’s the government’s responsibility to legislate and properly fund support worker pay – they must be valued and paid on par with healthcare workers.”