NEW analysis of Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) data shows that workers within the care sector in England are more likely to earn less than the real Living Wage compared to those in Scotland and Wales.
The data shows that 30.2% of jobs in England’s care sector are paid below the real Living Wage compared to 25.4% in Wales. This gap widens when you compare it to Scotland’s figure which stands at 10.3%, meaning that England has around three times the proportion of care sector jobs paying below the real Living Wage.
From 1 April, the Welsh government will be providing Welsh local authorities and Health Boards with £43 million to implement a real Living Wage in the care industry. This is already happening in Scotland, and Northern Ireland has stated that from June this year any company delivering services for the Government will have to pay staff working on that contract the real Living Wage.
Many are now asking why workers in England are being left behind, particularly as the rising cost of living has placed extra pressure on workers and families in recent months.
Adult social care industry staff turnover is notable here: in 2021-21, this rate stood at 28.5%, equating to around 410,000 leavers in a 12-month period. Around two thirds (63% – 258,000 workers) of these leavers stayed within the industry, while the remainder (37% – 152,000) left the sector altogether.
Today, 200 community leaders from Citizens UK alliances across the country, including care workers and care recipients, will be holding a tea party in Parliament Square to call for MPs to back a real Living Wage for care workers.
This action falls just two days before the new Health and Social Care tax is set to come into effect.
Low pay in the care sector disproportionately affects specific groups across society, as 4 out of 5 care workers are women; 1 in 5 are Black, Asian, or Minority Ethnic; and 1 in 5 are single parents. Campaigners have outlined that the Government cannot succeed in a levelling-up agenda without acting on wage inequality in the care industry.
Sherrie, a Citizens UK leader, previous care worker and current care recipient, said:
“It’s simply not right that care workers in the UK are caring for others but are unable to care for themselves. I’ve seen care workers’ children go without necessities like new school shoes because their parents cannot afford them.
“We need a real Living Wage for care workers, and we need it now. The new Health and Social Care tax is being implemented, and we need to see this reflected in wages. The Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish governments are all taking heed of this crisis – why are English care workers being left behind?”
Brett, a care worker who has left the industry, said:
“I’ve always been passionate about helping people and caring for our society’s most vulnerable gives me a sense of purpose, but I can’t do my job if I’m not able to live off my wage. I can hardly afford to fill my fridge with groceries, and my mental health is strained due to the long hours and money stresses.
“The care situation in this country is dire, and I know of other care workers who have also left the industry because of low pay. People want to care for others, but how can we do that when the wages we earn mean we can hardly take care of ourselves?”
Jessie, a Citizens UK leader and senior care worker from Preston, said:
“Caring for others has always made me feel a sense of purpose, which is why I chose to continue in the industry over other options, like going to university. Now, I’m fortunate enough to be a senior care worker in a residential home and study at the same time – but I know how out of reach this is for most people in the care industry.
“Low pay makes it so difficult to get qualifications, but then you aren’t taken seriously without them. That, coupled with ridiculously long hours, leaves care workers feeling they have no choice, with many choosing to leave the sector. It’s not right – and a real Living Wage would help break this cycle.”