The Portsmouth Labour representative on the councils Employment Committee has renewed calls for the local authority to ensure care workers employed in contracted out services are paid at least the Real Living Wage.

There are currently hundreds of local social care staff working for private companies contracted by Portsmouth City Council but who earn much less than the Real Living Wage of £9.50 per hour (increasing to £9.90 per hour in April 2022).

The Labour Group on the council has been campaigning for a pay increase for these employees in recognition of the vital work they do and their incredible efforts to keep the sick and vulnerable safe and well during the pandemic.

A Labour motion to the July 2020 meeting of Full Council sought to commit the council to becoming a Living Wage Foundation accredited employer which would have required the local authority to ensure all staff in contracted out services, such as home care and care homes, are paid the Real Living Wage.

Although the motion was passed, the Lib Dem administration has been slow to act despite regular pressure from the Labour Group. The inclusion of the Living Wage as a top Portsmouth Labour manifesto priority in the May 2021 local elections pushed the council leadership to commit to implement it in the 2022 budget.

However, that commitment seems to have fallen away with the council leader, Gerald Vernon-Jackson, and Cabinet colleague Darren Sanders both suggesting at a recent Employment Committee meeting that funding for the roll out of the Living Wage to social care workers would not be included in the annual budget they will be bringing forward in February 2022.

Councillor Cal Corkery, the Labour representative on the Employment Committee, said:

“It is clear the council has allowed care workers to be underpaid and undervalued for far too long. The Lib Dem administration now has the opportunity to fund a pay rise for everyone working in contracted out services so they all get at least the Real Living Wage and it’s vital they make the political choice to do so.”

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