Care workers miss out on living wage increase

Real living wage increases as the cost of living rises, but not for health care workers.

More than 250,000 people working for almost 7,000 real Living Wage Employers throughout the country will receive a pay boost as the new Living Wage rates rise to £9.50 across the UK (20p increase), and £10.85 in London (10p increase).

However, UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea warns that the increase will leave many thousands of health and care staff behind.

‘While some 250,000 low-paid workers will get a wage rise today, many others on the Covid frontline will be less fortunate.

‘Care staff working in homes and out in the community remain stuck on poverty pay, despite vital work supporting society’s most vulnerable throughout the pandemic.

‘The increase also means thousands of the lowest-paid health workers employed by the NHS, cleaners, domestics, porters, security staff and drivers, no longer earn a living wage.

‘Their colleagues working on outsourced NHS contracts fare even worse. Most employed by private contractors are on the minimum wage, and lowly statutory sick pay if they get the virus or need to isolate.

‘It’s time the government did the right thing and gave a well-earned pay rise to all those caring for us and keeping us safe while the virus rages.

‘That’s the best way of thanking them all for everything they do and protecting our vital public services.’

The Living Wage Foundations said research conducted by Cardiff Business School has demonstrated the significant impact of the Living Wage campaign since the start of the pandemic.

More than 250,000 workers have benefitted from an additional £200 million since the start of lockdown, including 130,000 key workers. Since 2011 over £1.3bn in extra wages has gone to workers and families through the Living Wage.

The UK rate is 78p per hour more than the government minimum wage (for over 25s) and the London Living Wage is £2.13 per hour higher.

A full-time worker paid the new £9.50 real Living Wage will receive over £1,500 in additional wages annually compared to the current Government minimum. For a full-time worker in London this figure rises to over £4,000.

The announcement comes as new research by the Living Wage Foundation has demonstrated the scale of low pay during the pandemic, with 5.5 million jobs (20.3% of employee jobs) still paying less than the real Living Wage. Northern Ireland had the highest proportion of jobs paying below the Living Wage (25.3%) and Scotland the lowest (15.2%). [2]

Laura Gardiner, Living Wage Foundation director, said: ‘It’s an incredibly challenging time for us all, but today’s new Living Wage rates will give a boost to hundreds of thousands of UK workers, including thousands of key and essential workers like cleaners, care workers, and delivery drivers who have kept our economy going.

‘Since the start of the pandemic employers have continued to sign up to a real Living Wage.

‘During Living Wage Week it’s right that we celebrate those employers that have done right by workers and families, providing them with much-needed security and stability even when times are hard.

‘These are the employers that will allow us to recover and rebuild from this crisis.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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