Campaigners in London have called for higher pay for social care workers as it is revealed some carers are paid less than a real living wage.

The call comes as new research places Haringey, an outer London borough, at the top of the UK league for jobs paying less than the real living wage.

Protesters from the community campaign group Citizens UK gathered outside a Haringey care home as inflation reached its highest level in 41 years.

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This home is run by the private chain Barchester Healthcare, which is campaigning for a living wage for caregivers.

More than a third of the borough’s jobs, 34.2 percent, pay less than the real living wage.

According to a new Living Wage Foundation analysis, it is the highest rate for any local authority in the UK.

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Other outer London boroughs closely followed Haringey, including Bexley (33.1 percent), Redbridge (31.9 percent), and Walthamstow (30.4 percent).

The independent Living Wage Foundation calculates the real living wage each year, based on the costs of the necessities for a decent standard of living. It was £9.90 across the UK in 2021-22, and £11.05 in London itself.

Outer London boroughs are assessed at a higher rate because the cost of living in the area is high – but they do not have as many of the higher-paying jobs found in inner London.

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According to official data, last year was the first time since 2012 that a higher proportion of workers in London (13.6 percent) earned less than the real living wage than in the rest of the UK (12.2 percent).

Both of these figures were lower than a year ago, owing to an increase in the statutory “national living wage.”

The government determines the national living wage, which is paid to workers aged 23 and up.

This year, it was set at £9.50, which is close to the UK’s real living wage but £1.15 less.

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Given the high rate of inflation, the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, is expected to announce a significant increase in the national living wage in Thursday’s financial statement, possibly raising it to £10.40 per hour.

The Living Wage Foundation has recommended that accredited employers who have promised to pay the real living wage – including half of the FTSE100 – raise pay to £10.90 an hour across the UK, and £11.95 in London, in the coming year.

Citizens UK, which began in east London over 20 years ago, engages churches, schools, and community groups in its campaigns.

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Dominique Edwards of Haringey Learning Partnership, who attended the protest with two of her students, said: “All of our students come from the borough.

“We are finding even parents who have full-time jobs are still struggling to meet some of their basic needs.

“At the end of the day, if their families are struggling, ultimately it has a direct impact on the young people.”

The protesters also delivered cards to the home from local schoolchildren.

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Paul Amuzie, of Citizens UK Haringey, said: “We are a membership organisation, and the issues we work on have come from their stories – and ultimately, low pay means kids coming into school with no breakfast.”

Barchester Healthcare is currently recruiting care assistants to work at the Haringey home for “up to £10 per hour.” The company made headlines in 2020 when its CEO, Pete Calveley, earned more than £2 million.

One of the sectors hardest hit by the UK economy’s current staff shortages is social care.

A spokesperson for Barchester Healthcare said: “We take the well-being of our employees very seriously and offer the most comprehensive remuneration package in the care sector. We actively benchmark ourselves against other providers to ensure we are in the upper quartile on remuneration for care home staff.” They added that all staff at the home were paid “at least £9.90 an hour”.

Image: Citizens UK

Source: The Guardian

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