72 per cent of Welsh public would support a National Care Service

72 per cent of the Welsh public would support the creation of a National Care Service, similar to the NHS, to deliver social care for older, disabled and vulnerable people.

That’s the finding of a Savanta ComRes poll of 1,021 people released today (Wednesday).

The poll, commissioned by public services union, UNISON, also found 90 per cent of the public believe Wales’ largely female care workforce should be paid at least £9.50 or more – the level set by the independent Living Wage Foundation.

Typically, care workers in Wales earn only the national minimum wage, which increased on 1 April to £8.91 per hour.

UNISON has prioritised the establishment of a National Care Service for Wales in its campaigning ahead of the Senedd elections in May. It describes the care sector as being in crisis.

The trade union says social care was in a precarious position before Covid as result of chronic underfunding and workforce shortages. The pandemic highlighted many more problems including: failure in the supply and distribution of personal protective equipment at the start of the pandemic; a lack of availability of testing; a devastating death rate in residential care and refusal from employers to pay sick pay when workers were isolating or had tested positive for Covid. UNISON says only a National Care Service for Wales could bring the co-ordination and investment required to improve standards for care workers and clients.

Care worker Pat Jones, said,

“It’s no surprise Welsh people overwhelmingly want to boost the wages of care workers and create a national care service.

“Covid revealed to people for the first time how many carer workers struggle with in-work poverty because of the very low wages paid.

“It struck a chord with people that if we are providing a vital service caring for loved ones, there should be much more investment in us and in high quality care.”

UNISON Cymru Wales regional secretary, Karen Loughlin, said

“People are waking up to the fact the UK has a care service ‘on the cheap’, where thousands of mainly female care workers are deprived of the fair wages they deserve and struggle to make ends meet.

“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.

“Care workers aren’t valued in the same way as NHS staff and there must be a complete overhaul of the care sector. UNISON is calling for a National Care Service for Wales which puts dignity and respect for clients and staff at its heart.”

Notes for editors

Savanta ComRes interviewed 1,021 Welsh adults aged 16+ online from 1 to 7 April 2021. Data were weighted to be representative of Welsh adults by age, gender, region and SEG.

Q. Care workers across Wales typically earn the national minimum wage of £8.91 per hour (as of 1 April 2021). To what extent do you think this hourly rate is too high or too low?

SUM: Too high 4%
SUM: Too low 76%
Much too high 2%
A bit too high 3%
About right 16%
A bit too low 34%
Much too low 42%
Don’t know 4%

Base: All respondents (n=1,021)

Q. Which of the following sentences best describes your thoughts on pay for care workers in Wales? The real living wage is £9.50/hour.

SUM: All at least or more 90%
All should be paid more than the real living wage 37%
All should be paid at least the real living wage 53%
Some can be paid less than the real living wage 4%
All should be paid less than the real living wage 1%
Don’t know 5%

Base: All respondents (n=1,021)

Q. To what extent do you support or oppose the Welsh government establishing a National Care Service (similar to the NHS) to deliver social care for older, disabled and vulnerable people in Wales?

SUM: Support 72%
SUM: Oppose 5%
NET: Support 67%
Strongly support 40%
Somewhat support 32%
Neither support nor oppose 14%
Somewhat oppose 2%
Strongly oppose 3%
Don’t know 8%

Base: All respondents (n=1,021)


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