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Over 400,000 social care workers are not paid real Living Wage

Over 400,000 social care workers are not paid real Living Wage
Matt Browning
Written By:
Matt Browning
Posted:
10/06/2024
Updated:
12/06/2024

The Government “should prioritise” paying all adult social care workers the real Living Wage, a study finds.

Over 400,000 social care workers are not being paid the real Living Wage accounting for inflation and rising living costs, which signifies 43% of all employees in England.

This rises to 80% in London, according to analysis from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).

The cost for the Government to pay those workers £12 an hour (£13.15 for London) would be £330m once income tax from higher wages kicks in, according to the Living Wage Foundation’s research.

That amount is less than 2% of the social care budget for the year.

Reform for wages of care workers is an important issue for the Liberal Democrats, which today (10 June)  pledged to create a new carer’s minimum wage should it win the general election on 4 July.

The Lib Dems’ election manifesto also promised to boost care workers’ pay by £2 an hour and increase carer’s allowance, as well as expanding eligibility for those who apply for it.

The party leader Ed Davey told voters the Liberal Democrats “will fight for carers every day.”

‘Poorly paid jobs do not cover the cost of living’

As Carers Week commences, Katherine Chapman, director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: “Despite being the backbone of our country, providing essential care to our loved ones when they need it most, many are struggling to make ends meet in insecure, poorly paid jobs that don’t cover the cost of living.

“We must urgently rethink how we value and reward our country’s care workers.”

Chapman added: “We would like to see the next Government properly fund social care to ensure that all adult social care workers are paid at least the real Living Wage.

“Decent pay is a vital first step in addressing the staffing shortfall and building a sustainable social care system that values its workers and delivers high-quality care.”

Meanwhile, care workers – particularly women – who halt their careers and therefore their pension payments too have been warned they face a “retirement squeeze” by Royal London.

This is down to having years without adding to your pension contributions, which is more likely to happen with women than men. Indeed, women are three times more likely to retire early to take care of a family member than a man is, the pensions specialists found.

The financial impact of someone who stops working at the age of 55 could lead up to a £65,000 “black hole” in a pension pot compared to someone who keeps working until the state retirement age of 67. Even if a woman were to go part-time to manage the caring responsibilities, her pot would plummet by £32,577.

‘A million women are not in employment’

Clare Moffat, pensions expert at Royal London: “Caring responsibilities mean a million women below age 50 are not in employment while many more take on lower paid part-time jobs to allow them to juggle both.

“Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that older female workers are twice as likely as their male counterparts to take on caring responsibilities – which unfortunately comes with a long-term cost to their retirement savings if they pause pension contributions.”

Moffat added: “But this isn’t just the bosses’ problem to solve. Couples urgently need to take greater responsibility for their own financial well-being and look at ways they can plan with confidence for retirement together.

“Contributing to a spouse’s pension and ensuring you’re both maximising the State Pension entitlement are among the steps you can take to ensure you’re retiring together in the style that you deserve.”