Low paid care workers pin hopes on new Social Care Forum

Mark Turner, UNISON Cymru Wales lead officer for social care


Thousands of mainly female, low paid care workers are hoping today’s (Thursday) initiation of Wales’ Social Care Forum will lead to a significant boost to their minimum wage-salaries.

UNISON says the first meeting today of the Social Care Forum could be the huge step forward the workforce needs and that investing in care workers and services will increase the quality of care clients receive.

Welsh government has formally brought employers together with unions and ministers in the Forum with a view to improving pay and employment conditions in the sector to better reflect the value of care work to society.

A report commissioned by Welsh Government, Review of Evidence of Variation in Terms and Conditions for Social Care Employment Contracts in Wales, to be launched at today’s Social Care Forum will show the overwhelming majority of care workers employed by private companies or charities are very low paid.

UNISON says many have to exist on Universal Credit to help them survive. By contrast, the wages of care workers directly employed by local authorities are consistently higher.

UNISON argues care workers have demonstrated how vital they are to our community well-being during the Covid pandemic and has called for them to receive at least £10 per hour.

Mark Turner, UNISON Cymru Wales lead officer for social care, said,

“We all clapped care workers for their dedication looking after the most vulnerable in very difficult circumstances during the lockdown. It is time to show them they are valued and pay them what they are worth. It cannot be right that some struggle to survive on poverty pay.

“UNISON knows that care workers in the private sector generally receive little or no sick pay and the enhancements for unsocial hours working are much lower than if they were employed directly by councils.

“This was apparent when Westminster and Welsh government recognised they had to bring in the infection control fund to offer carers with very low sick pay the protection they need to self-isolate. This must be addressed by the Social Care Forum too.

“Credit to the Welsh government for bringing unions and employers together; this is a more advanced position than in England.

“Going forward, UNISON will continue to argue there is a pressing need for sustained investment in social care and the development of a national care service.”

Peter Garland, residential care worker in Newport and UNISON branch secretary, said,

“Care workers are professionals dedicated to helping those in need in their communities but many are paid peanuts.

“We know what we contribute and I hope the setting up of a Social Care Forum is the first step to us being justly rewarded for the important work we do.”

Notes for editors

  • UNISON says typically care workers in the private or not-for-profit sector earn minimum wage pay on insecure, zero hour contracts. Some care workers are unsure one day to the next whether they have got a job. Very low pay means many are reliant on Universal Credit to survive.
  • A Social Care Forum is one of the ideas developed from the Fair Work Commission report Fair Work Wales. Today (Friday) is the first meeting of the Forum.
  • The independent Commission was set up by Welsh Government after longstanding demands from the Wales TUC and the trade union movement for Wales to become a fair work nation. The commission was asked to analyse how work can be made fairer in Wales.
  • The report recommends Welsh Government sets up a social care forum where employers, trade unions and Welsh Government meet on an equal footing to look at ways of improving employment and pay rights in the sector.
  • Find out more about the Fair Work Commission with UNISON’s blog with the Wales TUC
  • UNISON has developed an Ethical Care Charter



Alastair Gittins, UNISON Cymru Wales press officer on 07816 53 83 97