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Public back pay rises for care workers

Almost three quarters of people think care workers are underpaid, according to a new survey to mark the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act.

The survey published today (26 May) by the Fawcett Society shows that the public overwhelmingly want carers to be better paid and better valued.

The Savanta ComRes poll found 72% of those surveyed said that care workers are underpaid for the work they do.

And significant majority (65%) of people supported an increase in income tax to fund giving care workers a pay rise.

Three quarters (76%) say they should get paid at least the Living Wage of £9.30 per hour (£10.75 in London) for their work, rising to nine out of 10 Conservative-voting women (88%).

And eight out of 10 (79%) thought that they should be entitled to decent terms and conditions, while seven out of 10 (69%) said that those who help people in their homes should get paid for travel between their appointments.

The survey comes in the week of the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act 1970, which gave women the legal right to equal pay.

Eight out of 10 care workers are women, and the sector is characterised by low pay with many paid at just minimum wage levels. Work being done by women is still consistently being undervalued.

The survey also found that just 26% of people thought the government prioritised care homes enough at the start of the pandemic, with 48% disagreeing.

‘This crisis has revealed how much we rely on frontline workers, particularly low paid care workers, yet how poorly they are treated,’ said Fawcett Society chief executive, Sam Smethers.

‘The truth is government did not prioritise the care sector at the start and the public are clear on that. This must change. As a minimum it is time to properly protect them, give them decent terms and conditions and start paying them a living wage.

‘Fifty years on from the Equal Pay Act it is time to go to the heart of why women are still undervalued, and that is because we do not value care work, whether it is paid or unpaid. The Chancellor could give care workers a pay rise tomorrow if he chose to and our poll shows that the wider public, including the vast majority of Conservative voters, would support it,’ added Ms Smethers.

Photo Credit – Stux (Pixabay)

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