Scotland politics

Labour makes care worker wage pledge

care worker with elderly woman Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Labour says care workers are only paid the minimum wage

Labour has said all council care workers would be paid at least £7.85 an hour if it forms the next Scottish government.

The figure is the minimum salary mandated by the Living Wage Foundation.

Scottish Labour said it would compel all councils and private firms engaged in council contracts to pay the wage to care workers.

But council body Cosla questioned whether local authorities could afford the increase.

Scottish Labour said its policy was designed to address the high turnover in care staff and make caring a long-term career.

It argued that this would improve the care elderly people receive and relieve some of the pressure on the NHS.

'Recruitment and retention'

The party's deputy leader, Alex Rowley, said patients were having to wait for hours in accident and emergency units because the beds they should be in were occupied by elderly patients who were fit to go home but cannot because the care packages were not available.

He added: "We need to ensure that people can be cared for at home or in the community, and key to that is tackling the recruitment and retention problem in the care sector.

"Anyone who has been in receipt of care, or has had a family member receive care, knows that carers are just the salt of the earth. The idea that carers are paid no more than the minimum wage just beggars belief.

"We need to invest in the NHS to make it fit for the 2040s, not the 1940s. By investing in our care workers now we can save hundreds of millions of pounds in the costs of delayed discharge."

A spokesman for Cosla said it had already given its support to delivering a living wage for social care staff.

'Financial climate'

But he added: "We are realistic about the size of the investment this would require.

"The question is not whether it is the right thing to do for our staff and the quality of the services they deliver, but how local government is supported to find the necessary levels of investment to deliver it in the current financial climate.

"It is also important to understand that pay rates are not the only important issue in relation to the capacity and effectiveness of social care.

"We need to be ambitious in addressing the level of reform required to deliver an effective and sustainable health and social care service which prevents unnecessary hospital admissions and readmissions."

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites