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To: Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry

Vince Cable: Catch the criminal care employers and end the scandal of illegally paid care workers

Thanks for your help. We got good news coverage from the petition and showing it to Ministers helped make progress in inspecting the biggest agencies, but there is a lot more to do in social care. Please help and stay involved at

Vince Cable: Catch the criminal care employers and end the scandal of illegally paid care workers

We, the undersigned, believe it is a scandal that so many of those who care for the most vulnerable people in the UK are not paid the national minimum wage. We demand the Secretary of State instructs HMRC to investigate the illegal under-payment of 220,000 care workers.

Why is this important?

220,000 care workers are illegally under-paid.

Care workers looking after the most vulnerable people in the UK - elderly and disabled people - are being illegally paid below the national minimum wage of £6.50 an hour. According to the National Audit Office 220,000 care workers are being exploited in this way.

This is in part because whilst the advertised rate may be above the minimum wage, most care workers are on zero hours or temporary agency contracts, with the employers cutting out paid time wherever they can. A full day on the job can translate into only a handful of paid hours.

Vince Cable could make a difference.

In 2011 and 2013 HMRC investigated the care sector and found that only half of care providers were paying the national minimum wage. Thanks to their investigation several companies were forced to pay care workers the money that they were legally owed.

Now, because of the ongoing cuts to care budgets and a lack of follow up action from HMRC the situation has become worse and now 220,000 care workers across the UK are being illegally paid.

Vince Cable could instruct HMRC to investigate again, to name and shame some of the biggest care providers in the country but so far he hasn’t.

This practice is hurting people who need care.

One way employers under-pay home care workers is by only paying them for the time they spend caring for people in their own homes. This means the time they spend traveling between visits is unpaid.

Sadly many care workers are also not given enough time to care for people with dignity.

This puts care workers in an agonising position because they know they are being taken advantage of and are losing money they need for their own families, but they care deeply about the people they work with.

This sometimes puts care workers under pressure to leave their visits early to avoid having their wages pulled down. Whereas others regularly stay longer and work for free to just make sure the person gets the care they need and deserve.

Many good care workers get fed up with the situation and find other work, and the high turnover means a lack of continuity of care.

This is a recognised problem, yet Vince Cable still refuses to act.

The Public Accounts Committee looked at the issue in the summer and said, “We are astonished that up to 220,000 care workers earn less than minimum wage and seemingly little has been done to rectify this”.

100 MPs have signed an Early Day Motion saying they “strenuously suggest that HMRC launch a programme of proactive investigations into the sector to help end non-compliance with the NMW"

Even the Department of Health has requested that HMRC investigate again. In a Parliamentary debate in November Minister for Care Norman Lamb said “I repeat that I have requested that that themed work should start again. As he will understand, I do not have responsibility for HMRC. However, I have made that request and I will continue to push for that themed work to happen.”

Please sign now

Vince Cable talks a lot about transparency and fair pay – so why isn’t he investigating the illegal payment of care workers?

We believe he hasn’t acted because there hasn’t been pressure from the public.

Now is the time to change that.

This is about looking after the vulnerable people in our society, and paying people legally and fairly. If you know someone who needs care, or are concerned about what’s happening to the most vulnerable and elderly people in our communities who need care please sign the petition.

Reasons for signing

  • People pay a lot of money for care, the workers do not get paid very much and work long hours. If the money that service users put into the system was used correctly there would be more quality training and quality workers that will reduce the illegal workers and the abuse that some of these service users suffer.
  • The costs of care are astronomical & the harsh cuts force councils to cut corners and those who need it most are suffering further & having to pay a lot more - We need joined up thinking & sufficient funds so all those who need care get the care they should be entitled to in a caring world!
  • I've worked in the public sector for over 18 years but recently got made redundant. I decided to try care work as I wanted to help vulnerable people. I'm in my first week and cannot get over how poorly paid it is and how the system works, it's shocked me & can't believe they're allowed to get away with it!!


2015-07-30 09:32:49 +0100

Thanks to everyone who helped by signing this petition. We got some good news coverage as a result of the petition, and representing your concerns to Ministers, we managed to get progress in inspecting the biggest agencies. However there's a lot more to do in the care sector, and we're moving the campaign on: Help us Save Care Now at

2015-02-26 12:35:44 +0000

It’s time for more action.

Many care companies that provide care are cutting corners. Care visits are too short (some only five minutes!), care workers are not being trained properly, and not enough effort is being made to ensure vulnerable people are given the same care worker rather than seeing a series of strangers every day.

It is local councils that have the responsibility for care in their areas. They commission care providers and they can make sure the care providers meet basic standards. They can make sure visits are longer than 15 minutes, and that care workers are trained adequately and paid fairly, for example.
So UNISON has developed a set of commitments that we’re asking councils to meet, which are set out in a charter called the Ethical Care Charter.

Could you email your council and ask them to sign up to the charter? A few councils have signed up already, but it’s now time to make sure they all do:

2015-02-12 14:18:44 +0000

Dear friends,

We’ve had some success in the campaign to stop the illegal under-payment of care workers.

Last week UNISON asked Jo Swinson MP from the Department for Business, Industry and Skills why the widespread illegal under-payment of care workers was not being investigated, and we told her that you and over 13,000 others care about this and had signed the petition. This week it was announced that BIS and the DoH are going to investigate six of the biggest social care providers.

This is huge news as it will make a difference to the lives of hundreds of thousands of care workers, and improve the care of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people across the country.

But there is still more to do. We need to keep up the pressure to make sure they stick to this and investigate more than the six providers, so please do share the petition on your Facebook page or other social networks – and if you didn’t yet, please sign it!

2015-01-07 09:20:10 +0000

Dear friends,

Some good news - over 10,000 people are now urging Vince Cable to catch the criminal care employers and end the scandal of illegally under paid care workers.

Because of the growing number of people calling for this, this morning BBC Radio 4’s The Today Program focused on the government’s failure to properly investigate the care sector for the widespread illegal underpayment of care workers.

You can listen to the clip here:

And there’s even more good news - a group of MPs have now written a letter to government Ministers calling for them to order a new proactive investigation into the care sector.

This is thanks to the pressure you’ve helped with, but please could you help a bit more? Could you send the petition to your friends and colleagues and post it on social media?

The more people that sign, the less likely Vince will ignore us!
Thank you, UNISON campaigns

2015-01-06 19:10:40 +0000

10,000 signatures reached

2014-12-19 10:22:16 +0000

We're closing in on 5,000 signatures now, which is fantastic! Thanks to everyone who's signed. Let's keep sharing it and make this as big as we can!

Helen is a care worker, and she's written a blog for Touchstone on what insecurity and poverty wages mean for her and her family. Please check it out and share it with your friends:

And UNISON's Matt Egan has written a blog on Left Foot Forward, giving some more background on the ongoing campaign to enforce rights in this heavily casualised sector:

2014-12-19 09:58:41 +0000

5,000 signatures reached

2014-12-18 11:58:27 +0000

1,000 signatures reached

2014-12-17 18:40:10 +0000

500 signatures reached

2014-12-16 14:33:52 +0000

100 signatures reached

2014-12-16 07:57:54 +0000

50 signatures reached

2014-12-15 17:23:30 +0000

25 signatures reached

2014-12-15 12:32:15 +0000

10 signatures reached