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Nearly three quarters of care workers – and more in London and the North – are paid less than the real Living Wage, according to analysis for Living Wage Week.
Nearly three-quarters of independent sector care workers in England were paid less than the real Living Wage in the last year, according to new analysis.
The analysis by the Living Wage Foundation of care workers’ earnings in England in 2019/20 shows 73% were paid less than the real Living Wage. This is different from the Government’s minimum wage and is based on a basket of household goods and services and includes London weighting. The Government’s minimum wage – renamed the national living wage – is based on a percentage of median earnings.
The proportion of care workers paid below the Living Wage was even higher in London [90%] where living costs are higher and in the North of England [78% in the North West and 82% in the North East]. The real Living Wage nationally is £9.50 an hour and £10.85 an hour for London and is voluntarily paid by nearly 7,000 UK businesses across the UK.
Analysis by the Fawcett Society shows that eight-in-ten care workers are women, with BAME and migrant women over-represented in the sector. Front-line care workers are also very likely to be parents or carers themselves – and three times more likely to be single parents than the workforce as a whole.
The Living Wage Foundation says: “We have clapped these workers and are proud of them, but…it’s time to rethink how government, public bodies and businesses work together to value the contribution of essential workers. A first step must be ensuring adequate funding so that all care work is rewarded with, at least, a real Living Wage.”
Meanwhile, a report from the centre right think tank the Centre for Policy Studies [CPS] warns that raising the National Living Wage in the UK by more than 20% and lowering the age of eligibility from 25 to 21 by 2024 would damage job creation and economic growth. In its report, the CPS urges the government to prioritise protecting and creating jobs during the recession, arguing that raising the wage and extending it would harm the employment prospects of younger workers and hit sectors such as retail and hospitality.