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  • NEW LOCAL AUTHORITY DATA shows the economic impact of a £15 minimum wage for care workers in every community
  • Northern and Midlands towns with higher levels of income deprivation would benefit most
  • £15 minimum wage for care work would help end the recruitment and retention crisis and raise standards of care, says TUC

New research published today (Thursday) by the TUC provides a local breakdown of the financial benefit to the care workforce, and the wider economic benefits, of raising wages to a fair minimum of £15 per hour across the social care sector.

Investing in the workforce to end the social care crisis

The social care workforce accounts for £52 billion of England’s economy (GVA).

There are 1,790,000 posts in social care, but around 165,000 of these are vacant. The vacancy rate increased to a record 10.7% in 2021/22.

The shortage of care workers has led to a surge in the number of people waiting for social care assessments, and millions of hours of commissioned home care going unprovided.

Low pay and job insecurity are the main cause of the recruitment and retention crisis:

  • Nine out of ten care workers earn less than £15 per hour and many care workers are paid less than the real living wage (£10.90).
  • Almost a quarter (24%) of workers in the sector are employed on zero-hours contracts. 

The TUC’s research finds that a £15 minimum wage across the social care sector would mean:

  • An annual full-time wage of at least £29,250 for care workers.
  • Pay rises for 541,700 care workers across England.
  • Pay boost for high numbers of women workers (who make up 79% of care workers) and BME workers (who make up 31% of care workers), helping to reduce gender and race pay gaps.

The union body is calling for the cost to be met by the Treasury, rather than local authorities that remain cash-strapped following cuts since 2010 to the overall funding they receive from central government.

The net cost would be substantially lower than the £5.9 billion upfront requirement to bring pay up to £15 per hour for all care workers. This is because the Treasury would benefit from higher tax returns and reduced in-work benefits payments, and from the economic impacts of the additional consumer spending.

Regional and local impacts

The TUC research calculated which regions and local authorities would gain the biggest economic boosts relative to population size.

The top three regions in ranking order, along with their annual economic boost:

  1. East Midlands – £803 million
  2. North East – £422 million
  3. North West – £1,111 million

The top 10 local authorities, along with their annual economic boost:

  1. Sefton – £47 million
  2. Nottingham – £53 million
  3. Leicester – £58 million
  4. Torbay – £22 million
  5. Liverpool – £74 million
  6. Hartlepool – £14 million
  7. Stoke on Trent – £39 million
  8. Blackpool – £21 million
  9. Bedford – £27 million
  10. Newcastle upon Tyne – £43 million

See the notes for data on all English regions and all care-providing local authorities.

Upgrading care work and care services

Alongside a £15 minimum wage in social care, the TUC is calling for ministers to take the following action to improve care work and the quality and reliability of care services:

  • Establish a sector Fair Pay Agreement to negotiate minimum standards of employment in social care covering all social care workers.
  • Ensure good employment conditions for care workers, including proper sick pay and ending zero-hours contracts.
  • Develop a new National Social Care Forum to coordinate the delivery and development of services and agree a new workforce strategy.
  • Launch a long-term, sustainable investment plan to fund high-quality social care employment and services.
  • Reduce the role of private sector providers and move towards insourcing of care services.

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said:

“Most families need social care services at some point. And we all want to know our loved ones will receive a high standard of care. But that’s only possible if social care jobs are paid well enough to attract and retain the right people.

“We’re calling for a £15 per hour minimum wage across the adult social care sector. This will reduce staff turnover and help fill the thousands of vacancies in care services.

“There’s another upside. Our research shows that raising social care wages to £15 per hour will have wider economic benefits where care workers live and work. When they spend their higher wages, local businesses will get a boost. And that will support job creation and higher wages for other workers too.”

Editors note

- TUC analysis:

Regional impacts from raising all social care sector wages to a minimum of £15 per hour (£s)


Direct annual wage benefit

GVA boost (wage benefit with multiplier)


GVA boost per capita

East Midlands





North East





North West





South West





Yorkshire & Humber





West Midlands










South East















- Full local authority dataset: The spreadsheet linked to below gives the following information for every local authority that provides care services:

  • The total annual wage boost for care working in the local authority resulting from a £15 minimum wage in social care
  • The annual economic boost in £ millions for the local authority resulting from a £15 minimum wage in social care
  • The ranking number for all local authorities across England for the population adjusted boost
  • The ranking number for all local authorities in the same region for the population adjusted boost
  • A filter function to better see the data and ranking for a single area


Note that district authorities are not included as county councils provide care services.

- Methodology for TUC analysis showing the economic benefits of a £15 hourly minimum pay in social care:

  • The analysis uses Skills for Care hourly pay data by local authority for care workers.
  • For each local authority, it takes the difference between average hourly pay for care workers and £15. This is then multiplied by the number of full-time equivalent roles to give the total benefit of raising the minimum wage to £15 per hour.
  • The figures in this press release are therefore a minimum benefit, as if a £15 per hour minimum wage was introduced, the average hourly pay would likely be higher than £15 per hour.
  • For an annual figure, the hourly benefit is multiplied by 37.5 (the weekly hours figure used for full-time equivalent roles) and then again by 52.
  • To calculate the economic boost, a multiplier of 1.3 is applied to the total annual wage increase for each local authority. This multiplier was used as it is mid-point of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) range of multipliers for government spending.
  • To allow comparisons between regions and local authorities, we control for population size by dividing the annual benefit by population figures taken from the ONS’s 2021 mid-year population estimates.

- Other data on social care used in the release:

  • The percentage of care workers earning below £15 per hour is taken from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings 2022.
  • Figures on the size of the social care workforce and current vacancies come from Skills for Care.
  • Data on waiting time for social care assessments and hours of commissioned care that goes unprovided is published by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Care.
  • The number and demographics of care workers in England who would benefit from minimum pay of £15 per hour is derived from data in the Labour Force Survey, Q4 2022.
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