Pay Care Staff The Living Wage Says GMB

14 Oct 2014

GMB, the union for care staff, and Care England, the largest representative body for independent care providers in England, have written a joint open letter to Councillor David Sparks OBE Chair of Local Government Association setting out a joint concern over earnings levels in the Care Sector. Justin Bowden, GMB National Officer for the care sector, and Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive Care England, Care England, 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 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.  It cannot be right that the vast majority of care workers, and the care that they provide, are 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.

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.

To their credit, 70 LGA members so far have committed to paying their own employees the Living Wage. Many extend this policy to the private sector contractors they use to provide council services. However we are not aware of any council who extends this policy to the staff caring for their 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.

As a next step we would welcome getting together with the LGA to discuss how progress may be made on this vital issue. We look forward to hearing from you.”