Care England and the GMB union say they want to work with Local Government Association to pay care workers the Living Wage
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Care providers’ national body Care England and the GMB Union have written a joint open letter to Councillor David Sparks, chair of Local Government Association setting out a joint concern over earnings levels in the care sector.
GMB national officer for the care sector Justin Bowden and Care England chief executive Professor Martin Green said: “We believe a workforce carrying out such highly skilled and socially vital roles deserves to be a paid a living wage. We wish now to work with the LGA to raise pay in the Care Sector to at least living wage.
“As representatives of staff and employers, we are agreed that the time is long overdue for those who care for and support the elderly and most vulnerable people in our society to be properly valued. Key to recognition of the role and contribution care sector staff make is that they should be properly rewarded for what they do.”
Care England and GMB said it couldn’t be right that the vast majority of care workers, and the care that they provide, were valued at only the national minimum wage or thereabouts, well short of the Living Wage and well short of the pay levels paid by local authorities to staff directly employed in comparable roles.
“For us, the message this sends as a society is broader than just the value we place on the those who provide care, it also says something about the value placed on those in receipt of the care,” they said in the letter to the LGA.
“It is the local authority members of the LGA who fund the majority of the care places and packages in England and Wales. Low wages, low status and the immense challenges of care work itself produce a cocktail of undervalue directly linked to the high turnover and staff shortages in the sector and the concomitant effect on continuity and standards of care for residents and clients. Any care provider will tell you that they haemorrhage skilled and experienced staff when a new supermarket opens nearby, as workers leave the care sector for higher paid, less stressful jobs stacking shelves.”
Care England and GMB said that, while 70 LGA members had so far have committed to paying their own employees the Living Wage, and that many extended the policy to the private sector contractors they used to provide council services, they were not aware of any council who extended the policy to the staff caring for local residents via packages paid for by the council.
“Members of Care England have stated their support for Living Wage in the care sector, subject to receiving the funds to do this – on an open book accounting basis to evidence the additional funds have been fully passported to the workforce. GMB supports this pledge,” says the letter to the LGA.
Care England and GMB now hope to meet with the LGA to discuss the issue.