Nearly three quarters of independent sector care workers in England were paid less than the real Living Wage last year, analysis has found.
Research by Skills for Care for the Living Wage Foundation shows that out of 832,393 care workers, 604,168 (73%) were paid below the Living Wage.
The voluntary wage rose to £9.50 on November 9, a 20p increase on last year, and 78p per hour more than the current minimum wage for over 25s. The London Living Wage has been set at £10.85, a 10p increase on last year, and £2.13 per hour higher than the minimum wage for over 25s.
The proportion of care workers paid below the Living Wage was higher in London and in the North of England. Nine out of 10 (90%) care worker jobs were paid below the rate and 82% of jobs in the North East were also short of the level.
In the South East, 54% of care jobs were paid below the real Living Wage during 2019/20.
Laura Gardiner, director of the Living Wage Foundation said: “New lockdown restrictions mean these workers are once again being asked to keep the economy going and look after others. All too often, this commitment is very poorly rewarded, with large numbers of key workers in insecure and low-paid work.
“Nowhere is this situation starker than in our social care sector. We’ve long known that the cocktail of rising demand and falling funding in social care has led to increasingly poor pay. New data shows quite how parlous this situation had become on the eve of the pandemic.”
Gardiner added: “We have clapped these workers and are proud of them, but that fact is not something Britain can be proud of. It’s time to rethink how government, public bodies and businesses work together to value the contribution of essential workers. A first step must be ensuring adequate funding so that all care work is rewarded with, at least, a real Living Wage.”