Helen Hayes has hit out at the government’s plans for care workers, saying they need ‘more than just a badge’
The Dulwich and West Norwood MP has questioned ministers on pay rewards for frontline staff, the majority of whom do not earn a ‘real living wage’ – calculated at £10.85 per hour in London.
In a formal, written question to care minister Helen Whately, Hayes asked whether the government was considering reforming care sector pay along the lines of changes made by the Welsh government, to create more parity with NHS staff.
Whately answer mentioned the new ‘care badge’ branding scheme, to boost recognition of the sector and its key workers, including offering discounts in some shops, but failed to commit to pay increases or wider reform.
The minister replied: “The social care workforce now more than ever demonstrates unwavering compassion and dedication.
“We are grateful and proud of everyone working in social care. We want to celebrate the workforce and give them the acknowledgement and appreciation that they deserve.
“This includes developing the CARE brand to increase visibility and amplify the voice of social care both now and in the future.
“Alongside the CARE brand, we are providing CARE badges for all employed in social care to wear.
“We are continuing to explore further ways to recognise the workforce, empower staff and reinforce appreciation across the sector, and are making sure this recognition continues far beyond the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
It is believed that at March 2020, only a third of adult social care workers were paid a ‘real living wage’ or above.
Hayes described the government’s response to the challenges faced by the sector as ‘shameful’.
“Care workers have been on the frontline throughout the coronavirus pandemic facing impossible demands as COVID-19 spread through homes,” she told the News.
“I know from my conversations with staff across the care sector how hard they have worked to protect residents, often without the support or resources they need from the government, struggling to access PPE, dealing with the rapid spread of coronavirus and comforting residents who were unable to receive visits from loved ones.
“It is shameful that the government believes care workers in England should only be rewarded with a badge.”
“For years, care workers have been neglected working on low pay and without the same levels of recognition as staff in the NHS.
“As we emerge from this crisis, the government must recognise the vital role of care workers with a meaningful pay rise and by delivering on the long-promised reform to social care funding.”