Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about sick pay for care workers and the related campaign by the GMB Union.
Social care workers have been at the heart of the fight against coronavirus, working day and night to protect the NHS and save lives. They do so much to make our health service one to be proud of and they deserve our respect, admiration and full support.
I share your concerns that many social care staff do not have the right to statutory sick pay. As a result, many care workers are forced to choose between going to work and putting vulnerable people at risk or doing the right thing and isolating at home but not being able to pay the bills.
The Office for National Statistics has set out clear evidence that care homes which provide proper sick pay have lower levels of COVID-19 infections. To protect both care home staff and residents, I believe the Government must ensure that care workers can self-isolate when they are asked to do so.
Ministers have said the Adult Social Care Infection Control Fund should continue to support care providers to pay staff who are isolating their normal wages while doing so. However, with care providers already struggling under additional costs and pressures from the pandemic, not all care workers will be guaranteed full pay if they are asked to self-isolate.
The pandemic has exposed the underlying problems with our system of social care. A report by the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee finds inadequate employment conditions have undermined the sustainability of the social care workforce and have been brought into sharp focus by the coronavirus pandemic.
From the very beginning of the outbreak care staff have made great sacrifices. Yet many of those on the frontline have been undervalued and underpaid for too long and social care has lacked the priority and attention it deserves.
Alongside an immediate cash injection, social care services desperately need a long-term plan for reform. People who need care, and those who provide it, cannot afford to wait any longer. I believe the Government must publish its plan to fix the social care sector as a matter of urgency and that plan must guarantee all care workers will be paid at least the real living wage.