Andrew Smith MP

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Andrew demands a meeting and action from Government on illegally low pay for care workers

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Andrew has been campaigning hard to get a better deal for care workers. Up to 220,000 care workers are being illegally paid below the Minimum Wage, according to the National Audit Office.

Andrew called a debate in the House of Commons in November and secured a commitment from the Lib Dem Care Minister to get tougher on employers illegally paying staff.

In that debate, Andrew made clear his vies and those of his constituents: "The way many [carers] are treated is an utter and shameful disgrace and it's the job of this House and the Government to do something about it." Since the debate, the Government have done nothing.

Andrew has written to the Department of Business, with the cross-party support of 36 other MPs, to request a meeting with Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson MP to press for Government action in getting HMRC to enforce minimum wage law.

The Government have named and shamed other companies for illegally paying staff below the minimum wage, but have never done so with a care company, although an HMRC investigation of home care companies showed nearly half were guilty of not paying the minimum wage.

HMRC have a helpline for employees to raise issues of non-compliance with minimum wage law, but so few carers call up because they feel too intimidated by the danger of losing their jobs. It has become apparent, too, that when carers have called up HMRC, there have been long delays and insufficient action to tackle the problem.

Andrew said, "Care workers do one of the most vital jobs in the country. They go unsupervised into the homes of the frailest, make sure they take the right drugs, help them with washing and the toilet, prepare their meals and often provide the only human warmth and companionship an elderly person will have all day."

"For all this many of them are only paid only £6 or £7 an hour, with no guaranteed work, zero hours contracts even when they don't want them and zero respect from some employers."

"We are calling on Government to match their promises with action, and finally ask HMRC to proactively investigate compliance with minimum wage law in the care sector."

You can hear coverage of Andrew's letter on BBC Radio 4's Today programme here.

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