Campaigners today stepped up their fight for carers to be paid a Real Living Wage.
The Royal College of Nursing, the Methodist Homes Alliance, the Child Poverty Action Group and Unison joined calls led by Citizens UK for a pay boost.
Ahead of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s mini-Budget tomorrow, they demanded a £1.4billion injection for the sector to hike salaries to the Real Living Wage hourly rate of £9.30.
An estimated 500,000 of the country’s 900,000 social carers earn below the level, which is calculated independently, according to experts.
Bishop of Durham Paul Butler said: “The UK’s 900,000 social care staff have worked tirelessly through the Covid-19 crisis to look after the most vulnerable in our society, yet so many are struggling themselves because of inadequate pay.
“The Government must prioritise the proper funding of social care so that all care workers can be paid at least the Real Living Wage and be helped to live a dignified life.”
The Mirror told last month how more than five million people – including 1.3 million key workers – are paid less than the Real Living Wage, according to a study by the Living Wage Foundation and New Economics Foundation.
The legal minimum hourly rate, which the Government calls its National Living Wage, is £8.72 an hour, falling to £8.20 for those aged between 21 and 24, and just £6.45 for those aged 18 to 20.
In contrast, the Real Living Wage is £9.30 for all age groups, rising to £10.75 in London where costs are higher.
The low-pay in the social care sector coupled with the above-average risk of contracting Covid-19 has fuelled calls for a pay rise.
Unison assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The Covid crisis has laid bare the shocking levels of poor pay in care for all to see.
“Wages may be low but the skills needed are high.
“Just as NHS staff deserve an early pay rise, so do care staff. Their wages must reflect the valuable work they do.
“The Real Living Wage for all care workers would make the world of difference.”
The Royal College of Nursing’s director of England, Mike Adams, said: “The response to the Covid-19 pandemic has shone a light on the immense value of the skill, compassion and dedication of care workers in our society, and they deserve to receive the Real Living Wage.
“Fair pay and good working conditions for care staff can only mean better experiences and outcomes for the people they care for.”
Citizens UK’s executive director Matthew Bolton said: “The pressure is mounting on the Government to do what it can to ensure our care workers are given a Real Living Wage.
“By funding social care with the £1.4billion estimated as needed to bring all care sector staff onto the Real Living Wage, we can ensure these vital workers are given what they have worked so hard for.
“We have applauded them but now it’s time to take action to raise their wages.”
Anne-Marie Plas, who started the Thursday Clap for Carers, joined more than 125 social care, charity and faith leaders backing The Living Wage for Care Workers Charter.
Sam Monaghan, chief executive of the Methodist Homes Association, the UK’s largest charity social care provider, said: “We are proud to pay our staff the Real Living Wage.
“Now, more than ever, we need to demonstrate how we appreciate the work our care staff carry out and paying them the Real Living Wage is part of that.”
The head of NHS England this week called for plans to adequately fund the social care sector to be in place within a year.
Sir Simon Stevens told the BBC the coronavirus crisis had shone a “very harsh spotlight” on the “resilience” of the care system.
The Department of Health said it would bring forward a plan for reform.
The Mirror’s Fair Care For All campaign calls for proper investment in the sector.