Merton’s Lib Dems call for a “Carers’ Minimum Wage” as vacancies spiral to 841

11 Feb 2023

The Liberal Democrats are calling for a higher minimum wage for care workers across Wimbledon, Raynes Park, Mitcham and Morden, to tackle chronic staff shortages in social care.

It comes as the latest figures reveal Merton has 841 job vacancies in the social care sector - a vacancy rate of around 19.1%.

These chronic staff shortages are leading to patients being left stuck in hospitals waiting for social care, contributing to record-breaking waits in A&E and dangerous ambulance delays.

Under the Liberal Democrat plans, social care workers would be paid at least £2 an hour more than the current minimum wage, bringing their pay up to at least £11.50 an hour today - and £12.42 from this April. The proposals would benefit up to 3300 people working in the social care sector in Merton.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Wimbledon, Cllr Paul Kohler said:

“Too many people are stranded in hospital beds because there simply aren’t enough care workers to look after them if they come out of hospital.

“We’ve fought long and hard to get local Council bosses to agree to pay care workers the London Living Wage. But that commitment hasn’t been met yet, and it’s not clear that workers in care homes will ever really benefit from this.

“But the social care emergency is having a devastating impact on people’s wellbeing right now, as well as contributing to record long waits at A&E and terrible ambulance delays. Not only does this affect the people who need carers, but it impacts their families and friends, who must step in, too.

“The first step to fixing this mess is to pay those working in social care more to stop the exodus to other jobs. Being a carer is a difficult and demanding role requiring skill. I have seen first-hand the incredible job that care workers do day in and day out. It should be paid more.”

Commenting, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey added: 

“It is heart-breaking that millions of elderly and vulnerable people across the country are struggling to get the care they need and deserve. Our NHS is collapsing and social care is completely broken after  years of broken Conservative promises.

“The Conservatives’ neglect of social care services has caused an exodus of staff to better paying jobs. Our plan for a Carer’s Minimum Wage would tackle these chronic staff shortages in social care, and help take pressure off the NHS.”

Lib Dem logo bird projected on blockwork

Notes to Editors: 

There are currently 165,000 vacancies in social care – up 55,000 since last year (Source: Skills for Care - Workforce Data).

According to the Resolution Foundation, the net cost to central government of funding an extra £2/h for carers is around £890m a year in current prices. (Resolution Foundation report ‘Who Cares?’, 2023, p.38, footnote 35.)

Remote Gaming Duty is currently levied at 21%. According to the latest HMRC figures, it raised £970 million in 2021-22. Increasing it to 42% would therefore raise an additional £970m, assuming no behavioural change.

According to the Resolution Foundation (p.37), there were 1.7 million social care jobs in the UK in 2022, and more than half of care workers would see their pay improve as a result of a £2/h pay rise (more than 850,000 workers)

Public Health England has estimated the adverse impact of gambling on society at around £1.3 billion a year – through a combination of financial harms and the impact on physical and mental health, employment, education and crime.

Around 1 in 3 care workers are paid minimum wage (Source: Skills for Care - Pay in the adult social care sector).

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