Lanarkshire key workers have had to take jobs at rates below the Real Living Wage - despite previous council promises that workers would earn at least that amount.
Figures obtained by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) and our sister title the Daily Record showed that care providers commissioned by six Scottish councils - including both North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire councils - have advertised frontline work with salaries below £9.50 per hour between October 2020 and April 2021.
Both local authorities are signed up to trade union Unison’s 'ethical care charter' in which they commit to paying home care workers at least the Real Living Wage.
The news comes as union bosses say social care is in “urgent need of reform”.
Across the UK, more than 60 per cent of care worker jobs advertised in the past six months paid less than the Real Living Wage, amounting to more than 7000 jobs.
Care workers said low pay for gruelling work had left many of them struggling to feed and clothe their families, brought on mental and physical health issues, and made many of them consider leaving their jobs.
One care worker said: “The only way to cover your living costs in this profession is by sacrificing your own health and your family to work ridiculous hours.”
The majority of jobs advertised in Scotland under the Real Living Wage came from providers Constance Care and SCRT.
In response to the findings, Constance Care said: “We provide services to public sector commissioners and to private individuals and in general does not use different recruitment streams for each type of work.
"Therefore, any individual applying for a position in the company could be working on either type of assignment, although the majority of our services are publicly-funded and normally usually via local authority framework commissioning.”
A spokesman for SCRT also said that SCRT does not use different recruitment streams for each type of work, and that employees could end up working in different roles.
Earlier this week the Trades Union Congress published figures that showed more than 74,000 children in the families of key workers in Scotland were living in poverty.
The TUC says the main reasons for key worker family poverty are low pay and insecure hours – factors that often coincide in occupations such as care workers, delivery drivers or supermarket staff.
NLC became a Living Wage employer in 2017. The council said they “made a commitment to work towards consolidation of the Living Wage into our salary scales”.
Asked about the advertised care jobs for their council, a spokesman said: “This organisation is not currently on our framework that was established on April 1, 2021.
“However it was on a previous framework and to avoid any disruption to the people they support, they continue to provide support as outlined in the previous arrangement.
“The council is an accredited Living Wage employer. The majority of the council’s contractors and suppliers have committed to passing on the Living Wage to their employees and the council continues to work with them on this through fair work practices and contract management arrangements.”
Marianne Hayward, interim chief officer and director of social work and social care at SLC, said: “We are committed to the living wage both as an employer and as a commissioner of care at home services.
“We underlined this commitment in December 2019 when it adopted Unison’s ethical care charter.
“This reaffirmed our existing commitment to the promotion of the Real Living Wage for staff delivering care at home services that are commissioned by SLC.
“While legally we are unable to mandate the payment of the Real Living Wage through our contracts, we place a strong emphasis on providers adopting the arrangement and seek a declaration from all providers that the payment of Real Living Wage is in place as part of our annual rate uplift process.
“All contracted care at home providers within South Lanarkshire have confirmed that they pay staff a minimum of the living wage, which is currently set at £9.50 per hour.
“We can confirm that Constance Care confirmed payment of the living wage as part of the annual uplift process in April 2021 and have again confirmed this following your enquiry.”
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