The Labour Party has called on the government to publish its plan to fix the social care crisis and pay carers at least the Real Living Wage.
Angela Rayner, Labour’s Deputy Leader, said all social care workers should be paid at least the Real Living Wage of £9.30 and £10.75 in London.
Ms Rayner, who worked as a home care worker and represented social care workers as a shop steward and a trade union official before becoming an MP, said: “It was a moral outrage before this pandemic that the average wage for a care worker is a little over £8 an hour and half don’t even earn the Real Living Wage, but now it is unconscionable.
“The Prime Minister and government Ministers have fallen over themselves to clap for our carers and offer them warm words, but applause and empty gestures don’t pay the rent or put the food on the table.
“We can’t clap our key workers and then abandon them. We can’t go back to business as usual, where the very same people who have helped to get our country through this crisis are still underpaid and undervalued.
“After all their sacrifice and bravery, the very least that our care workers deserve is a pay rise.”
The Deputy Leader was scathing in her assessment of the government’s handling of the pandemic, commenting: “It is a disgrace that Boris Johnson demeaned the office of Prime Minister by attempting to blame care workers for the spread of coronavirus in our care homes.
“It is his failure and incompetence that has resulted in 15,000 deaths in our care homes due to coronavirus. He should concentrate on fixing the crisis in social care that has become even more urgent because of this pandemic.”
Ms Rayner’s call for a Real Living Wage and the right to Statutory Sick Pay for carers was backed by Rachel Harrison, GMB National Officer, who said: “GMB has consistently called for a Real Living Wage for social care workers. COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on the importance of this – it’s what our members deserve.
“Statutory Sick Pay is a pittance. It’s not enough for anyone to survive on in any workplace – least of all care, where staff have to choose between going to work ill or staying home and not being able to pay the bills.
“Social care needs funding, not just for during a pandemic, but for long term reform. Contractual sick pay and at least a Living Wage should be a right for all social care workers.
“No longer should it be an expectation that to work in care means minimum wage and no sick pay.
“GMB will not stop fighting for pay justice for our key worker social care members.”
A Government spokesperson said: “All social care workers must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage, and the National Living Wage if aged over 25. On top of this, we have made sure care workers are supported financially during the pandemic, ring-fencing over £1.1 billion of funding which can be used to pay the wages of staff who may need to self-isolate.
“This is in addition to a new Test and Trace Support payment of £500 that will make it easier for those on low incomes to be able to self-isolate.
“We know there is a need for a long-term solution for social care and are looking at a range of proposals as part of our commitment to bringing forward a plan that puts the sector on a sustainable footing for the future.”