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The TUC has today (Sunday) called on ministers to revise their plans to fund social care, and instead raise Capital Gains Tax to provide a long-term funding boost for social care, and to raise the pay of all care workers to at least £10 an hour. 

A new report published by the union body says that increasing tax on wealth and assets would provide a much-needed cash injection for the care sector.  

It cites estimates that reforming Capital Gains Tax could raise up to £17bn a year. 

The TUC says the money generated would: 

  • cover the cost of introducing a £10 an hour minimum wage for all social care staff, which the TUC estimates would cost the Treasury £230 million; 

  • potentially allow over £16bn to be invested in improving social care services across the UK. 

Today’s report argues that raising Capital Gains Tax is a much fairer way to fund social care than hiking workers’ and businesses’ national insurance contributions. 

And it calls for an end to wealth and assets being taxed at a lower rate than working people’s hard-earned incomes.  

The union body says that is “plain wrong” that under current tax arrangements a low-paid social care worker can pay a bigger share of their income to fund the social care system than the private equity magnate who profits from asset-stripping care homes to sell on.  

Widespread support for higher pay and better conditions in social care 

The TUC estimates that 580,000 social care workers – the vast majority (492,000) of whom are women – would get an immediate pay boost if ministers introduced a £10 minimum wage. 

Such a move would be very popular with the public. 

A new poll of working adults – carried out for the TUC by BritainThinks – shows there is widespread support for improving pay and conditions in the social care sector: 

  • More than eight in ten (86 per cent) say that improving working conditions for social staff will improve the quality of care services. 

  • Six in ten (61 per cent) workers earning £50,000 or more say they would be prepared to pay more tax to have better social care services – compared to less than a fifth (17 per cent) who said they wouldn’t. 

  • A similar number (83 per cent) believe that all care workers should all be paid at least £10 per hour – including over three-quarters (77 per cent) of workers who say they voted Conservative in the 2019 general election. 

Urgent action needed to fix social care staffing crisis 

Today’s report warns that urgent action is needed to tackle the staffing crisis in social care, which it describes as the “biggest challenge” facing the sector. 

It highlights how, at any one time, the social care sector has approximately 122,000 vacancies with staff retention a huge issue. 

The TUC says that endemic low pay and job insecurity are key reasons behind carers leaving the profession. 

Analysis by the union body shows that seven out of ten care workers earn less than £10 per hour and that one in four (24 per cent) are employed on zero-hours contracts.  

The TUC says the sector will continue to be plagued by staffing shortages unless ministers improve pay and conditions across the board. 

A new settlement for social care 

Today’s report calls for a new settlement and vision for social care that addresses: 

  • The need for stronger and more resilient care services that has been exposed by the coronavirus pandemic. 

  • The undervaluing of the care workforce, and the lack of job security and dignity at work. 

  • The understaffing of care services, and damaging impacts on stretched staff and the quality of care experienced by service users. 

The TUC says that there is clear public support for more spending on social care, as well as fairer tax policies that could fund a high-quality National Care Service with decent pay and conditions for staff. 

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:  

“Our dedicated care workers have risked their lives to care for our loved ones during the pandemic. Now it is time we cared for them. 

“Every care worker in Britain should be paid a wage they can live on. And that means at least £10 per hour.  

“Any plan to fix social care funding must also fix pay for workers in the sector.  

“And working people shouldn’t bear the burden of funding social care alone. The prime minister should be asking those who make a fortune from their property and assets to pay a fairer share of tax.  

“It is plain wrong that the government’s social care plans will see a low-paid social care worker paying extra to fund the social care system while the private equity magnate who profits from asset-stripping care homes to sell on sees no change.  

“It’s time to raise taxes on wealth to fund social care properly, and guarantee decent pay for all social care workers.”  

Editors note

-A copy of the report is available here:  

- Polling - BritainThinks conducted an online survey of 2,203 workers in England and Wales between 12th and 21st July 2021, based on a nationally representative sample. 

- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together the 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living. 

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