The London Assembly has called on the capital’s boroughs to do more to tackle low-pay in social care.
A report by the assembly’s Economy Committee says that increasing the pay of social care workers is vital if London Mayor Boris Johnson’s vision of the ‘London Living Wage’ becoming “the norm” by 2020 is to be achieved.
The committee’s report, Fair Pay, says that action to improve social care pay is a crucial step if the London Living Wage is to become widespread.
It calls on London boroughs that have agreed to implement the London Living Wage to set a clear timetable for raising the pay of social care staff, including those working for services commissioned from external employers.
A failure to do so, the report warns, could undermine efforts to raise the pay of the 750,000 workers in the capital who currently earn less than the London Living Wage, which currently stands at £8.80.
“If milestones do not include social care, then the living wage ethos and reputation is likely to be eroded negatively,” says the report.
Committee chair Stephen Knight AM added: “If the public sector can lead the way in pressuring for increased wages, in particular for people working in social care, there is an opportunity to demonstrate to more employers from low-paying industries, the benefits of the London Living Wage.”
The committee also calls on London boroughs to ensure that social care staff, including those working for outsourced services, are paid the minimum wage.
Social care workers should also be paid for travel time between care assignments and be reimbursed for their expenses in accordance with minimum wage rules.
The Fair Pay report says that approximately half of social care staff in London earn less than £8.80 per hour and says the committee is “seriously concerned by reports of abuse of zero-hour contracts in public sector contracts, particularly in the social care sector”.
The committee recommenders that the job of enforcing the minimum wage is devolved to local authorities and called on Johnson to press the UK government on this issue.