Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner bashes government for social care failures

The UK's social care system is in crisis. Where COVID-19 has caused acute stresses on the system, under-funding and crippling structural problems have existed for years. Labour’s Deputy Leader Angela Rayner today spoke about the crisis, and called for government action. 

Rayner, who was a home care worker and represented social care workers as a shop steward and trade union official before becoming an MP, said it was “unconscionable” that the average wage for a care worker is just £8.10 an hour, while half don’t even earn the real living wage. She attacked the government for “empty gestures” that “don’t pay the rent or put the food on the table”.

The Labour Deputy Leader said that "“After all their sacrifice and bravery, the very least that our care workers deserve is a pay rise".

The Living Wage Foundation's has set a living wage of £9.30, rising to £10.75 in London. The Living Wage Foundation's figures are calculated based on the costs of living across London and the rest of the UK, and are higher than the government's minimum wage of £8.20 for under 25s and £8.72 for over 25s. The government re-branded the statutory minimum wage in 2016, however this National Living Wage is not the figure calculated by the Living Wage Foundation. 

Rayner said that any plan to fix the social care crisis must be implemented "without any more delays", and that it must " guarantee all care workers are paid at least the real living wage".

The MP for Ashton-under-Lyne, who will open Labour Connected this weekend by paying tribute to the “key worker heroes” who have put their lives on the line to help get our country through this crisis, also accused the Prime Minister of demeaning his office by trying to blame social care workers.

“Many social care staff do not even have the right to derisory Statutory Sick Pay of £94.25 per week", said Rayner. “They are left in an appalling position, forced to choose between going to work and putting vulnerable people at risk or doing the right thing, isolating at home and not being able to pay the bills”.

Regarding the spread of COVID-19 in care homes, with excess care home deaths totalling over 30,000, Rayner said that “it is a disgrace that Boris Johnson demeaned the office of Prime Minister by attempting to blame care workers for the spread of coronavirus in our care homes". 

“It is his failure and incompetence that has resulted in 15,000 deaths in our care homes due to coronavirus. He should concentrate on fixing the crisis in social care that has become even more urgent because of this pandemic"