Two Merseyside local councils, Knowsley Council and Liverpool Council, have committed to paying government commissioned care workers the real living wage, from April 2023 and April 2024, respectively.
The councils joined Wirral Council, which previously committed to pay the real living wage as a minimum, following trade union Unite’s Stand Up for Social Care campaign, which turned its sights on the Merseyside area in October 2022.
The campaign was launched in order to discover which UK councils were paying the living wage, and encourage the rest to follow. In July 2022, Unite secured real living wage rates at six out of the 10 councils in the Greater Manchester area, increasing pay for an estimated 25,000 carers.
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Three of Merseyside’s six councils have now committed to the real living wage, following a 3,000-strong petition presented by the union to Steve Rotherham, metro mayor of the Liverpool City Region, in late 2022. Members also lobbied the five councils in question by attending local meetings.
The real living wage is set each year by the Living Wage Foundation, and is calculated based on living costs. The UK real living wage is currently set at £10.90, compared with the government living wage of £10.42 for those aged 23 and over, and £10.18 for those aged between 21 and 22.
Dan Smith, regional organiser at Unison, said: “Care workers are some of the most exploited workers in the public sector. They are overworked and under-paid, with the vast majority employed by private providers which prioritise profits over paying their staff a decent wage.
“Unison members working in care in the North West have shown it doesn’t have to be like this. By coming together over the last 18 months to fight for fair reward and recognition, they’ve taken action and built pressure to win the Foundation Living Wage at over 60% of local councils in the region. The latest commitment by Liverpool City Council will help boost pay for thousands of workers, and shows other councils across the country have the ability to act now.
“We don’t have to wait for a change in government for change. Local councils have it in their power now to increase care worker pay. Care workers in Unison won’t stop campaigning until all councils in our region pay the Foundation Living Wage as a minimum starting salary.”
Knowsley Council and Liverpool Council were contacted for comment prior to publication.