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Living Wage for Social Care

Living Wage for Social Care

Care work is skilled work, which requires you to be responsible for someone in their hour of need. No one taking on this responsibility should be paid the bare minimum. The whole country relied on care workers to keep us safe during the pandemic. Now we must ensure that care workers are paid enough to meet their basic needs.

43% of adult social care workers in England earn below the real Living Wage, but it doesn’t need to be this way. Scotland has a policy of ensuring care workers are paid the real Living Wage, and campaigning from Citizens Cymru Wales led to the Welsh Government making the same commitment from 2023. Citizens UK are calling on the UK Government to use every lever at its disposal to ensure all social care workers in England are paid at least the real Living Wage

Leaders crossing the road with a Living Wage for Carers sign

All care workers need to earn at least the real Living Wage. Over 400,000 workers in social care currently earn below the real Living Wage in England. In London, 80 per cent of care workers are paid below the London Living Wage. Analysis by the Living Wage Foundation (June 2024) shows it would cost the future government £330 million to ensure care workers earn the real Living Wage. This is less than 2 per cent of the social care budget for the coming year.

Show your support for carers by signing the petition, and help us persuade the next Government to introduce the real Living Wage for social care workers.

The Living Wage Foundation has released a report on The Real Living Wage in Social Care and is calling on the next Government to ensure all social care workers are paid at least the real Living Wage.

Social care workers do vital, skilled and demanding work, but this is not reflected in their pay. We are calling on the next Government to ensure all social care workers are paid at least the real Living Wage for all hours worked, including in-work travel time and sleep-in shifts, by putting in place sufficient funding, delivery mechanisms and guidance for Local Authorities.

What is the real Living Wage?

The real Living Wage is an hourly rate, calculated according to cost of living in the UK by the Living Wage Foundation. The UK Living Wage is currently £12.00 per hour (UK). The London Living Wage is currently £13.15 per hour.

Launched by Citizens UK in 2001, the Living Wage campaign has won £2 billion in additional wages, lifting over 400,000 people out of working poverty.

Funding for a Living Wage for Social Care would cost UK government an extra £1.4 billion per year with nearly half recouped in reduced benefit costs and increase income tax revenue. A House of Commons Committee has published figures (October 2020) backs care worker wages to rise beyond the national minimum and wider social care reform through an urgent £7 billion financial settlement from central government.

Around 8 in 10 people recognise that care workers are underpaid and deserve a real living wage.

Citizens UK are asking for a living wage for care workers and are working with a broad alliance of national leaders and care providers around this campaign. It’s working. In 2021-2022 we saw more than 2,500 care worker wages uplifted through Living Wage Accreditation including Sunderland City Council and Newham Council. The Future Social Care Coalition is also calling for substantial wage increases in the sector and ‘parity of esteem’ with the NHS.

Public think care workers are underpaid | The Fawcett Society; Seven in 10 Tory voters say Boris Johnson should give care workers a pay rise - Mirror Online.

Citizens UK’s Living Wage for Careworkers Charter (

Future Social Care Coalition

Here are some institution-specific resources we recommended to members to raise the profile of this campaign.

Five community leaders from Citizens Cymru Wales stand smiling with Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales.

Following grassroots campaigning from Citizens Cymru Wales , the Welsh government pledged £70 million to ensure that care workers are paid at least the real Living Wage, impacting 50,000 people.

This came after local organisations realised that the number of care workers relying on foodbanks was rising at an alarming rate, and took action to win change.

A year of action: Winning pay rises for 88,000 people

Between 2021-2022, community leaders from 17 chapters across Citizens UK took action and won commitments from the Welsh Government, local authorities, care providers and large NHS health trusts to pay workers a real Living Wage. The estimated impact of these commitments, including Living Wage Foundation accreditation, means that 88,096 people will benefit. Securing these pay rises has inspired us to continue our campaign for the Government to provide support and funding to ensure that care workers across the country can receive the real Living Wage.

Infographic saying '274 new accreditations in health and social care'
Between October 2021 - December 2022, 274 new health and social care institutions became Living Wage accredited.
Infographic saying '164 newly accredited care providers'
These accreditations include 164 new care providers.
Infographic saying 12 newly accredited large NHS trusts
These accreditations also include 12 new large NHS trusts.
Infographic saying 'That's a total of 88,096 people benefitting'. Confetti sprays out behind the text.
The total estimated impact of new accreditations, plus commitments from local authorities and the Welsh Government, is that 88,096 will benefit from pay rises.
Young girl in yellow dress and with a flower headband dances. She's surrounded by giant bubbles and other community leaders holding signs and flags. One banner says 'Bupa do you care'. Image taken outside Bupa headquarters

Citizens UK leaders across the country took coordinated action outside the headquarters of 5 major UK Care Providers: Barchester, Bupa, HC-One, Four Seasons Healthcare and Care UK. They operate over 1000 care homes across the country but are not accredited Living Wage employers, with some staff being paid less than the real Living Wage.

The Living Wage Foundation can answer your questions and help you work out complexities. Start by reading their toolkit for Health and Social Care.

How you can get involved

We are asking businesses, Local Authority leaders and Civil society leaders to:

Living Wage Week 2021

Become an Accredited Living Wage Employer

Commit to paying all staff a real Living Wage and become officially accredited with the Living Wage Foundation


Take action with your local Chapter

Campaigning for a Living Wage for Social Care is a priority across Citizens UK chapters. Get in touch with your nearest one and find out how you or your institution can get involved.

Care Home residents and staff celebrate accreditation as a Living Wage employer

We know that a real Living Wage is the answer and we have the power to make change. Greater Manchester Citizens campaigned with Salford UNISON to win pay rises for care workers across the region. They ended up persuading one of the UK's largest care providers to commit to paying every care home worker across the country the real Living Wage, resulting in £19 million back into workers' pockets.

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