Thank you for all those who have contacted me about the campaign for a real living wage for care workers.
I commend the extraordinary contribution of social care workers in our constituency and across the country. As part of wider reforms to put social care on an equal footing with the NHS, I support a ‘New Deal for Care Workers’ that would improve pay – ensuring all care workers are paid at least a real living wage of £10 an hour – transform training, terms and conditions, and ensure proper career progression.
For too long, care workers have been undervalued and underpaid and our social care sector has lacked the priority and support it needs. Workforce burnout and shortages are among the most pressing issues, with 105,000 staff vacancies and burnout reaching emergency levels, putting the future functioning of services at risk.
Improving quality and access to social care depends on proper support for our care workforce. It is vital that we address high rates of vacancy, inadequate levels of retention and workforce terms and conditions. Yet in my view, the Government has failed to bring forward a credible long-term strategy to recruit the care workers we need to meet growing demand, or to deliver staff the good pay, training and working conditions they deserve. Its White Paper on social care reform fails to deal with the immediate pressures in the system, and it offers no certainty about the budgets for staff education and training.
Care workers up and down the country face a cost of living crisis; petrol prices, energy bills and the cost of the weekly food shop are all rising. Inflation is at its highest level since 1992 and is forecast to rise further still, and wages are falling in real terms. Yet the Chancellor is pressing ahead with tax rises on millions of working people.
Care staff need more than warm words and applause. They have been asked to give so much and too often they get so little in return. I urge Ministers to halt the national insurance rise and provide greater support to help with the rising cost of living by guaranteeing that all care workers will be paid at least a real living wage of £10 an hour.
Thank you once again for contacting me about this issue.