LABOUR councillors have called on authorities to pay carers in Essex a real living wage, as well as statutory sick and Covid isolation pay.

At a full council meeting at Essex County Council Lee Scordis, councillor for Abbey Division in Colchester, called on the authority to pay the carers it employs a real living wage of £9.50.

Today, the average wage for a carer stands at less than £9 an hour.

“It is only morally right after all we have been through we pay our care workers a fair wage,” said Mr Scordis.

“The wage rise we are calling for is not significant. The past 18 months have shown the amazing work carers do.

Read more: Man dies following fatal rush-hour incident involving lorry

“During the pandemic they played a vital role in keeping our country running. We clapped for them every Thursday, but yet the Government has not given them a pay rise.

“They work incredibly hard dealing with all types of scenarios to give us dignity in life and death.”

It comes as the country faces a shortage in carers, with many care homes at risk of losing business as lack of staff leads to an inability to take on more residents.

During the height of the pandemic, the Government came under heavy fire for not providing full pay to carers who had tested positive for Covid-19 and were forced to self-isolate.

One carer, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We are regularly understaffed in our care home, working 12-hour shifts as a minimum.

“I know plenty of others who have two to three different jobs and, after clocking out of a 12-hour shift, they move on to their second job because the wages do not allow us to pay for rent, bills and childcare.”

Labour’s proposal will now be discussed at the next budget meeting in February.

Conservative councillor Michael Hardware said: “This council recognises the importance and valuable role carers have played before, during and after the pandemic.

“They should be commended for their efforts and continuing sacrifices.

“The majority of Essex County Council staff are paid at least the real living wage, more than 96 per cent of them. All Essex County Council staff receive occupational sick pay, and pay if they have to isolate for Covid.”

He explained a lot of staff are externally employed and the council has no say over their pay or benefits they receive.