When it comes to care workers, don’t just applaud, pay them properly | Torsten Bell | Opinion

We like to clap our care workers. On my street, as on almost every other, people are out in force each Thursday to applaud the NHS and social care workforce. Drums and the odd firework are involved. But how much effort have we put in as a society to treat those very same social care workers with a shred of respect in recent decades? Precisely zero is the unavoidable conclusion from new Resolution Foundation research.

More than a million people work in care – they are overwhelmingly women and 50% more likely to be from a BAME background than other workers. How have we chosen to pay these workers? Badly.

Around half are paid less than the real living wage (£9.30 or £10.75 in London). While the rising minimum wage has helped, many tens of thousands also miss out even on this legal entitlement. And it’s not like we offer security in exchange for low pay – care workers are four times more likely to be on a zero-hours contract than the rest of us.

Most care workers are in the private sector, but they are very much delivering a public service. And it’s the squeeze on public funding as demand rises from an ageing population that has brought us to this place. Yes, we can blame politicians but ultimately it’s we voters who have given them the strong incentive to put proper funding of social care in the too-difficult-to-solve pile for decades.

So, let’s enjoy clapping our care workers today and start paying them properly tomorrow.

Torsten Bell is chief executive of the Resolution Foundation. Read more at resolutionfoundation.org

Source link