Thousands of mainly female, low paid care workers will be incensed to learn today (Friday), the Prime Minister has refused to waive tax and National Insurance deductions from the £500 Covid bonus granted by Welsh government.
As many as 65,000 care workers and their families in Wales will be negatively affected by the Prime Minister’s decision. UNISON Cymru Wales has slammed Boris Johnson for not valuing care workers.
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 that tax should not apply, the Westminster government refused to budge so UNISON contacted the Prime Minister directly.
The trade union wrote to him in June, asking him to ‘do the right thing’ for Welsh care workers by allowing them to keep a pandemic bonus in full. It has only just received as response.
Karen Loughlin, UNISON Cymru Wales regional secretary, said:
“The Prime Minister’s decision is disgraceful. This bonus was meant for hard-pressed care workers and their families, not to disappear into the Treasury’s coffers
“Care workers have looked after our loved ones under difficult and frightening circumstances during the pandemic and they were applauded by Boris Johnson.
“This decision shows he’s not on the side of care workers or working people in Wales. They have every right to feel bitter. The super-rich have become even wealthier during the lockdown but the people whose jobs are most socially valuable are forced to struggle on the breadline.
“The Secretary of State for Wales, Simon Hart, should be banging the Cabinet table for the people of Wales but that doesn’t seem to be happening either.”
UNISON says sustained investment in social care is urgently needed and it campaigns for a national care service. The trade union argues care workers should receive at least £10 per hour to lift them out of poverty.
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.
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 refused to budge so UNISON decided to contact the Prime Minister directly.
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 hereIt includes analysis and charts of the impact on the £500 bonus.
The response from the Treasury on behalf of the Prime Minister can be found here
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.
UNISON has developed an Ethical Care Charter
Alastair Gittins, UNISON Cymru Wales press officer on 07816 53 83 97