‘Poverty wages’ for care workers ‘holding back our economy’, says Angela Rayner

Angela Rayner

Labour’s deputy leader will demand the government to increase pay for care workers to at least £10 an hour, as she warns “poverty wages” are not only “morally wrong” but “holding back the economy”.

In a keynote speech at Unison Women’s Conference today, Angela Rayner is expected to say that a pay rise for social care “heroes” is “well overdue” and the “least that they deserve” after the last year.

She’ll also state that giving the frontline workers a pay rise will mean “every extra pound” is spent in local businesses and high streets – and will not be “squirrelled away in an offshore account”.

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The news follows the launch of a Parliamentary petition, signed by more than 23,000 people, which calls for a £3.9 billion special support fund to make fair pay a reality for care staff across the country.  

The campaign, organised by Unison, is also backed by celebrities including Joanna Lumley and Jo Brand.

Labour analysis shows that increasing social care staff pay to at least £10 per hour would result in rises of up to £3,500 a year, which Rayner will argue would help secure the economy.

She will say: “Claps didn’t pay the bills last year and it should be a source of shame for Tory ministers that the very same people who have been putting their lives on the line to care for others throughout this crisis are being paid poverty wages that mean they are struggling to support themselves and their own families.

“Last year, the Prime Minister and his cabinet fell over themselves to clap for our carers. It’s now well past time for the government to give our care workers, and all of our key worker heroes, the pay rise they deserve to at least £10 an hour.

“It isn’t just morally wrong that so many of our care workers do not earn a wage that they can live on, it is also holding back our economy.

“These pay rises wouldn’t be squirrelled away in an offshore account, every extra pound in the pocket of an underpaid key worker will be spent in local businesses, on their local high street and will help to secure our economy.”

Labour has calculated that increasing pay to £10 an hour for a worker in the sector aged over 25, currently being paid the minimum wage of £8.72, would result in an additional £51 per week or £2,500 per year.

Meanwhile, an employee in the sector aged 21 to 24, currently on the minimum wage of £8.20 per hour, who would benefit from an extra £72 a week or £3,456 annually.

Rayner is also expected to say in her speech that it is a “disgrace” that some care workers are paid less than the minimum wage because they are not paid for the time spent travelling between visits.

She is set to tell the conference: “It is bad enough that three-quarters of our care workers are not being paid the living wage, but it is a disgrace that so many care workers are being exploited and mistreated in this way with their pay packet for the hours they work falling well below even the minimum wage.

“If a care worker works an eight-hour day they should be paid for an eight-hour day. That is not complicated and it is not too much to ask for the Government to uphold the law.

“The Government must act immediately to end this scandal and ensure that social care staff are paid what they are entitled to under the law.”

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Sarah Clarke

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