SOCIAL CARE STAFF will receive the Real Living Wage in Wales as part of a package to support the sector, the Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan has announced.

A key pledge in the Programme for Government, the implementation of the Real Living Wage is seen as the first step to raising wages, esteem and recognising staff for their extraordinary contribution in the coronavirus pandemic.

Currently £9.90 per hour, the Real Living Wage is independently calculated by the Resolution Foundation and overseen by the Living Wage Commission. The Real Living Wage will apply to registered workers in care homes and domiciliary care, in both adults and children’s services. The uplift will apply to Personal Assistants who provide care and support which is funded through a direct payment.

The Welsh Government will provide Welsh Local authorities and Health Boards with £43 million so they can implement the Real living Wage from April; with workers feeling the benefit in the following months.

The Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan said: “Social care continued to face considerable pressure. Throughout the pandemic we have all seen the vital contribution social care workers have made and continue to make, every single day to our health and social care system.

“This is an important first step towards improving employment terms and conditions for the sector. It is a long term commitment and will take some time to implement. We will need to ensure that we do this carefully and in a way that does not destabilise the sector. I look forward to working with all stakeholders, Social Care Fair Work Forum, Union, local governments and providers to take this forward.

The Chief Social Care Officer for Wales, Albert Heaney said: “Every social care worker should feel valued, rewarded and respected for the vital work they do and the valuable role they play in our communities. By introducing the Real Living Wage and working towards improving the terms and conditions, we are beginning to tackle some of the challenges facing the sector; in particular recruitment and retention.”

Commenting on the announcement, Kelly Andrews, GMB Wales Public Services Senior Organiser said. “This is [a] good first step. This increase will finally see many of our members in social care paid a wage they can live off, rather than having to live on the breadline.

“However, it doesn’t go far enough. GMB has been campaigning on behalf of our social care members for fair pay and believe that deserve at least £15 per hour, a rate that properly recognises their professional status and the incredibly demanding work they carry out.

“For too long this profession has been underpaid and undervalued, and it’s high time we turn it into the kind of service we can be proud of; like our NHS.”

“GMB will continue to work with Welsh government in improving the sector for everyone and creating a National Care service that Wales can be proud of.”

* Sources: Welsh Government and GMB Union