The new living wage won’t be a magic bullet for social carers – it may even worsen travel pay and the use of zero-hour contracts in the sector

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“I think if you ask any long-term member of staff why we do the job we do, they will always reply it’s because of the service we provide,” says Sophie Jones*, a homecare worker. “It will never be about the pay rates or the wages we get.”

As a care worker, Jones visits the houses of people who need support, and provides care in their own home. This can include personal care, giving medication and monitoring nutrition. For this, she is being paid £7.20 an hour, the rate of the new national living wage which will come into force this April and effectively raises the minimum wage by 50p an hour for staff over the age of 25. But, due to lack of pay for travel time between home calls and for breaks, what she takes home works out as much less than this. This week, Jones says, she has worked five days, leaving the house at 6.30am and getting back at 10pm, and her pay has worked out around £5 an hour. In April, her company will raise her wage slightly – to £7.30 an hour – and money paid for driving between calls will increase by 5p a mile. But this isn’t enough to raise her actual wages to the level of the current minimum wage, let alone the new on. Read the full article by Ruth Hardy at The Guardian here

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