Saturday, 30 January 2016 14:59

STURGEON - Labour Councils must back living wage for care workers

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Speaking at the first annual SNP Disabled Members’ Conference today, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will call on Scottish Labour to work with the SNP to make the living wage a reality for social care workers across Scotland.
 Deputy First Minister John Swinney this week provided final details of next year’s Local Government Finance Settlement to council leaders.

 As well as providing funding specifically to protect pupil/teacher ratios and maintain the council tax freeze, £250m is being offered to invest in integration of health and social care - including a commitment to pay a living wage to all social care workers.
 The policy will cover all social care workers - whether they are employed by the council, the independent or the third sectors - and will benefit an estimated 40,000 staff.
 In her speech today, Ms Sturgeon will urge all councils to accept the deal, including the commitment to pay all care workers a living wage from October 1st.
 The Scottish Government has paid the living wage to all staff whose pay packets it controls since 2011. The First Minister will today stress that rolling it out across the care sector can only become a reality with the support of councils - and will urge Labour to work with the SNP to deliver the “ambitious” policy across the whole of Scotland.
 Speaking this afternoon, the First Minister will say:
 “The Living Wage makes a real difference to the lives of the lowest paid in Scotland - and with the limited powers we currently have in Scotland, we have helped ensure that a higher proportion of the workforce in Scotland benefit from it than any other nation in the UK.
 “Back in 2011, the Scottish Government became the first government in the UK to roll out the living wage across the public sector where we control the pay bill - directly benefitting around 3000 workers.
 “We’ve also taken steps to ensure that public bodies consider fair work practices such as paying a living wage before they award public sector contracts - and there are now more than 430 Scottish-based living wage-accredited employers.
 “But there are still some sectors where the living wage is sadly not a reality.
 “Our social care workers play an invaluable role in looking after the most vulnerable in our communities - and with an ageing population, it is more important than ever that we attract and retain the best staff by paying them a fair wage.
 “Both the SNP Government and local authorities have a shared aspiration to see care workers paid a living wage, and that’s why we have included funding to roll it out in our funding offer to councils.
 “And from October this year we’ll deliver a living wage of £8.25 for 40,000 social care workers across Scotland.
 “Delivering this landmark policy is a challenge for local government in the current financial circumstances - no one is pretending otherwise.  But the offer from the Scottish Government will help meet that challenge.
 “By accepting the Local Government Finance Settlement, the SNP and Labour can work together to take a huge leap forward in tackling low pay in Scotland - and help to build a fairer Scotland.”