Health

If the Tories believe in ‘levelling up’, why not level up pay for outsourced NHS staff? | Polly Toynbee


While CEOs get Covid-19 bailouts, key workers – especially from minority ethnic backgrounds – are underpaid and at risk

Nothing will be the same again, say the silver-lining seekers. A BBC radio series is exploring big ideas in a “Rethink” of everything. YouGov polling this week shows most people want to “build back better” with a “fairer and greener economy”. Isn’t that what they said when the banks crashed the world economy in 2008?

Building Boris-branded status projects may restore some public investment axed in the last lost decade. But for a government talking of “levelling up”, as recession threatens the lowest paid, there’s a traditional Tory lack of interest in levelling up incomes. This week’s High Pay Centre research shows chief executives of top companies receiving state bailouts related to the Covid-19 pandemic are earning 80 times the median average of their employees. But if work is to be revalued, there’s no better place to start than the NHS – after all that clapping not just for nurses, but for care workers, cleaners, porters and security guards who kept hospitals going. As the Office for National Statistics registers the highest death toll among the lowest paid, the pandemic has become a national lightbulb moment: to be low paid only means to be undervalued, not of less value.

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