New survey data published today by The Fawcett Society, the gender equality campaigning charity, finds that the public overwhelmingly want carers to be better paid and better valued. This includes strong support amongst Conservative voters, with 7 in 10 saying they support a rise in income tax to fund a pay rise.
The research comes in the week of the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act 1970, which gave women the legal right to equal pay. Eight out of ten care workers are women, and the sector is characterised by low pay with many paid at just minimum wage levels. Work being done by women is still consistently being undervalued.
The Savanta ComRes poll finds that by a margin of two to one, people disagree that the government prioritised care homes enough at the start of the pandemic, with 48% disagreeing and only 26% agreeing.
A large majority agree that care workers are underpaid for the work they do
Many low-paid care workers will be among the 1.2 million women who are not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay due to their earnings. Our poll shows that the public overwhelmingly thinks that every worker should be able to access sick pay during the pandemic, with 77% agreeing.
Vitally, a significant majority – 65% – of people support an increase in income tax to fund giving care workers a pay rise. Only 11% disagree. Support for this rises to 7 in 10 amongst Conservative voters (68%). An even greater proportion of the public, 74%, want to see care for the elderly and disabled protected from any funding cuts.
Sam Smethers , Fawcett Society Chief Executive said:
“This crisis has revealed how much we rely on frontline workers, particularly low paid care workers, yet how poorly they are treated. The truth is Government did not prioritise the care sector at the start and the public are clear on that. This must change. As a minimum it is time to properly protect them, give them decent terms and conditions and start paying them a living wage.
“Fifty years on from the Equal Pay Act it is time to go to the heart of why women are still undervalued, and that is because we do not value care work, whether it is paid or unpaid. The Chancellor could give care workers a pay rise tomorrow if he chose to and our poll shows that the wider public, including the vast majority of Conservative voters, would support it.”