‘Welsh government must lift care workers out of in-work poverty immediately’ – UNISON

Responding to the Prime Minister’s announcement on social care yesterday (Tuesday), UNISON Cymru Wales says there is an onus on Welsh government to immediately lift care workers out of in-work poverty.

UNISON has called for Welsh government to devise a National Care Service for Wales which puts the quality of care and dignity and respect for care workers at its core, something the union says was entirely absent from Boris Johnson’s announcement.

The trade union criticised the Prime Minister for failing to provide a vision of what improved care would look like and how the livelihoods of low paid care workers would be transformed.

UNISON represents thousands of care workers in Wales and says Welsh government must now enact its manifesto commitment to pay all care workers the Foundation Living Wage of £9.50 per hour and move to NHS-level rates of pay as soon as possible.

A poll commissioned by UNISON Cymru Wales in April this year found 90 per cent of the public believe Wales’ largely female care workforce should be paid at least £9.50 or more.

The poll also found 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.

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

“The Covid pandemic revealed to everyone how hard care workers toil providing vital services for very little money. The public wants care workers to have a decent pay rise. The care sector is the poor relation of the National Health Service.

“Welsh government was elected on a manifesto commitment to boost the earnings of care workers. They need to do that now and present a plan how wages will increase further to the level of NHS staff.

“Boris Johnson wants to introduce a regressive tax rise and he’s plucked figures from the air. He has no idea of what a properly funded care system would look like. Welsh government can do better by starting from the point of maximising quality of care for clients and providing good employment conditions to care workers.

“A National Care Service for Wales could resolve the recruitment crisis in the sector and help keep people in their own homes and out of hospital.”

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. 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