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Plaid Cymru demands end to ‘disparity’ between health and social care worker pay

17 Mar 2021 4 minutes Read
Image by Sabine van Erp from Pixabay

Plaid Cymru has called for an end to the “disparity” between the pay of health workers and those who work in social care.

It wants the Welsh Government to reform of pay, terms and conditions to bring in equality of treatment for the two sectors and wants care workers to be paid a guaranteed minimum of £10 an hour.

The party will be raising the issue in a debate scheduled for this afternoon (Wednesday 17 March) in the Senedd.

Under current arrangements, all health workers in the NHS are paid at least the real living wage. However, that is not the case in the care sector.

If it forms a government, Plaid Cymru has vowed create a National Health and Care Service, with free social care at the point of need, with health and social care workers put on the same pay scales.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething has previously insisted in the Senedd that the Government is not “avoiding addressing these issues”, that it is taking what it calls an “honest and pragmatic approach” and that it is “working towards introducing a real living wage for the workforce”.

Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Minister for Health, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said: “The public has clapped for our carers, now it’s time for government to step up and put a value to the clapping.

“Plaid Cymru has made its commitment to our carers – in government, we will create genuinely seamless National Health and Care Service, which will give care workers the respect they deserve, putting them on the same terms and conditions and pay scales as health workers.

“If the other political parties in Wales are serious about this, they will have the chance to back Plaid Cymru’s motion in the Senedd today and commit to delivering a reformed pay and retention settlement for health and social care staff, including a guaranteed minimum of £10 an hour for care workers.

“For our carers, who have put so much into looking after us during the biggest public health crisis in our lifetimes, it is the very least government can do for them.”

‘Highly uncertain’ 

Health Minister Vaughan Gething has previously told the Senedd: “The pandemic and the actions to contain it have led to a sharp increase in UK Government borrowing and debt. In this challenging fiscal environment, the outlook for economic activity and public sector finances in Wales remains highly uncertain.

“Any decision about whether, how and when to use tax policy levers in Wales would need to consider the possibility of the UK Government implementing other fiscal measures that would impact in Wales, and the need to support economic recovery in Wales to generate the tax revenues to pay for Welsh public services.

Taking account of the impact of the pandemic and the challenging economic and fiscal climate, our conclusion is that a tax solution for raising funds for social care is now more of a longer-term potential solution and not a likely solution in the near future.

“The implication of not increasing taxes is that we cannot raise or redirect resources to improve social care in the way we would have liked to have done through the social care promise.

“I want to stress that we are not avoiding addressing these issues, but we have taken what I believe is an honest and pragmatic approach given the fiscal environment we find ourselves in.

“This brings me to measures we have identified through our work that could, subject to budget prioritisation by an incoming government, be implemented more quickly and therefore be a bridge to other more wide-ranging reform in the medium to long term.

“These measures, which could be started in the shorter term, and implemented as quickly as is affordable, include working towards introducing a real living wage for the workforce.

“LE Wales estimated this to be an extra £19 million above the projected national minimum wage uplift for year 1, and some capital investment to enable better housing solutions, estimated at £70 million to £80 million a year over a five-year programme.”

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