Organisations including Oxfam and Carers UK have joined forces to issue and urgent plea for politicians across the UK to protect carers from a “growing poverty crisis”.
In an open letter, more than 100 charities, unions and think tanks say that carers on the frontline of the fight against the coronavirus are facing “intolerable pressure”, having been undervalued and under rewarded for far too long.
The urgent plea comes as a YouGov poll commissioned by Oxfam found that 70% of adults think that care workers are paid too little, while 78% believe care work is not valued highly enough by the government.
The letter warns that failing to ensure carers, both paid and unpaid, are protected from poverty would be “truly unforgiveable”.
It states that an inadequate social security system and poverty wages have left carers “languishing in poverty for years”.
The coalition is calling for increases to key benefits, including Carer’s Allowance and Child Benefit, as well as immediate changes to Universal Credit, including removing the five week wait for an initial payment, the limit on the number of children families receive payment for, and the benefit cap.
The organisations are also calling for a significant cash injection into the social care system to enable providers to pay their workers a minimum of the Real Living Wage.
Danny Sriskandarajah, Oxfam GB chief executive said: “We all owe the nation’s carers a debt of gratitude for putting themselves at risk to look after others during this pandemic. Carers have long been under-valued – even before this crisis hit, too many were living below the breadline, struggling to stay afloat.
“There’s overwhelming public support for carers to be given a fairer deal – political leaders across the UK owe it to them to make sure they’re protected from poverty, now and in the future.”