Public services union UNISON Cymru Wales has today (Thursday), written to the Prime Minister, asking him to do the right thing for Welsh care workers by allowing them to keep a pandemic bonus in full.
The UK government has refused to waive tax and National Insurance deductions from the £500 bonus the Welsh government wants to grant all care workers.
UNISON says any tax paid on the £500 will count against Universal Credit benefits the majority of care workers receive because their pay is so low and could reduce the bonus to as little as £125.
Welsh government announced the bonus to acknowledge the commitment of low-paid care workers throughout the Covid-19 lockdown. Despite the First Minister’s lobbying, the Westminster government has refused to budge and now the union has decided to contact the Prime Minister directly with its analysis of how the £500 is affected.
UNISON Cymru Wales regional secretary Tanya Palmer said:
“The Covid lockdown has shone a light on the tremendous work undertaken by thousands of mainly low-paid, female care workers in Wales. They continued to care for our loved ones under difficult and frightening circumstances.
“The Prime Minister clapped for care workers but they will feel cheated by Boris Johnson if tax and Universal Credit deductions leave them with as little as £125.
“This bonus was meant for hard-pressed care workers and their families, not to disappear into the Treasury’s coffers. UNISON has called on the Prime Minister to think again.”
Notes for editors
- HM Treasury says that the £500 is subject to tax and NICs unless specifically exempt.
- As things currently stand this means that a full time home care worker will be liable for income tax of £100 and NICS of £60. Home care workers are also likely to be in receipt of Universal Credit because their incomes are so low. They also stand to see a cut to their Universal Credit of £214.20. This means that they would actually receive just £125.80. The position of part time care workers depends on their gross annual income.
- UNISON’s letter to the Prime Minister (sent Thursday 25 June), can be found here It includes analysis and charts of the impact on the £500 bonus.
- UNISON is clear, the £500 in no way deals with the systemic low pay of the care sector and it has called for sustained investment to lift care workers out of in-work poverty and provide dignity for clients. It has recently called for a national care service.
- In its letter, UNISON Cymru Wales has also raised the unexplained absence of Wales’ share of the Infection Control Fund. Following a meeting with Helen Whatley Minister of State for Care, UNISON was informed of a Government expectation that no care worker should suffer a financial detriment due to their work or Covid-19 absence. The UK Government has made £600m available via local authorities and devolved administrations as of Friday 22nd May, to underpin the extra costs to support staff and infection control measures. It’s vital that the Wales share of this is received as soon as possible.
Alastair Gittins, UNISON Cymru Wales press officer on 07816 53 83 97