Paying social care workers “poverty wages” is holding back the economy, Labour will warn as it demands the government raise their salaries to £10 an hour.
Deputy leader Angela Rayner is set to say that giving the frontline workers a pay rise will mean “every extra pound” is spent in local businesses and high streets – and will not be “squirrelled away in an offshore account”.
She will use a speech to the Unison Women’s Conference on Wednesday to say such a rise for social care “heroes” is “well overdue” and the “least that they deserve” after the last year.
Rayner will say: “Claps didn’t pay the bills last year and it should be a source of shame for Tory ministers that the very same people who have been putting their lives on the line to care for others throughout this crisis are being paid poverty wages that mean they are struggling to support themselves and their own families.
“Last year the prime minister and his cabinet fell over themselves to clap for our carers. It’s now well past time for the government to give our care workers, and all of our key worker heroes, the pay rise they deserve to at least £10 an hour.
“It isn’t just morally wrong that so many of our care workers do not earn a wage that they can live on, it is also holding back our economy.
“These pay rises wouldn’t be squirrelled away in an offshore account, every extra pound in the pocket of an underpaid key worker will be spent in local businesses, on their local high street and will help to secure our economy.”
The national minimum wage for workers aged 25 and over is currently £8.72 – or £8.20 for those aged between 24 and 21.
Labour said that increasing social care workers’ pay to £10 an hour would give a 25-year-old an extra £2,500 a year while a 24-year-old would receive another £3,500 per year.
Rayner will also say it is a “disgrace” that some care workers are paid less than the minimum wage because they are not paid for the time spent travelling between visits.
She is expected to tell the conference: “It is bad enough that three-quarters of our care workers are not being paid the living wage, but it is a disgrace that so many care workers are being exploited and mistreated in this way with their pay packet for the hours they work falling well below even the minimum wage.
“If a care worker works an eight-hour day they should be paid for an eight-hour day. That is not complicated and it is not too much to ask for the government to uphold the law.
“The government must act immediately to end this scandal and ensure that social care staff are paid what they are entitled to under the law.”