WIRRAL Council has put almost £12m into supporting carers, as they continue to battle coronavirus.

The council has sacrificed the huge sum to ensure care workers are paid the Real Living Wage and vital frontline care services are supported through the pandemic.

The Real Living Wage stands at £9.30.

That is a big improvement on the National Minimum Wage, which stands at £8.72 per hour for those aged 25 and over and just £8.20 per hour for 21-24 year-olds.

This move alone will cost the council almost £6m.

Last month, Wirral Council paid care providers £2.9m to ensure staff were paid the Real Living Wage for an initial six month period.

The authority has now committed to funding the pay rise for the whole financial year.

As well as wages, the new money will go towards extra funding for domiciliary carers and those working in supported living, and covering the costs of staff sickness due to Covid-19, with an expectation that care workers who are off due to coronavirus receive full sick pay.

Wirral Council said one reason it had made the move was the increased costs of care due to Covid-19.

Many workers have had to self-isolate and have others cover their shifts, more money has been spent on cleaning products for infection control and higher costs have been incurred in areas such as PPE and food supply.

The council hopes today’s pledge will ensure providers can continue to meet the increasing demands for care as people leave hospital following coronavirus infections and continue to need care and support in their own homes.

Wirral Council has been praised for some of the more radical steps it has taken to protect its residents from the impact of the pandemic.

The authority’s self-employed support scheme was the first of its kind in the country and won praise on The Martin Lewis Money Show on ITV1.

Leader of Wirral Council, Cllr Pat Hackett, said: “This latest boost for care workers is another sign of our determination to help those on the frontline of tackling coronavirus.

“We have been committed from the outset of this pandemic to working closely with the care sector in Wirral, supporting them in every way we can, including the vital financial help they need.

“I am pleased that Wirral has taken a leading role in making sure care workers in our borough are recognised and helped.”

David Jones, Wirral Unison Branch Secretary, said: “We welcome the decision of Wirral Council to provide additional support for the care sector, and that this allows full sick pay to be provided for care workers, something Unison has longed campaigned for.

“We look forward to working with the council to implement these positive changes.“