Hancock to investigate reports that social care workers being asked to pay for ‘badges of honour’

Claims that some care home staff are being made to pay for special badges identifying themselves as medical workers will be investigated by the Health Secretary.

The introduction of the new “badge of honour” by Matt Hancock has been met with criticism from industry figures and opposition MPs who have highlighted the more pressing need for better personal protective equipment.

Mr Hancock said on Wednesday that a single brand symbolising the entire profession allows social care workers to enjoy the same public recognition as NHS staff.

But questioned by LBC on Thursday about reports that some care workers would have to buy the badges for £1.20, Mr Hancock said he was “not aware” that was the case.

He added: “I’ll look into that. But the thing is that most care providers are private sector organisations whereas the NHS is in the public sector and that sometimes explains some of these apparent differences.”

Mr Hancock said the CARE badge would have “practical consequences as well”, including enabling care workers to attend priority shopping hours at supermarkets.

Meanwhile shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said care workers should be given more than just a badge, and he called on the Government to provide a “package of substance”.

The badges have been in production since March 2019 and are used to raise the public profiles of caregivers in the UK. They are normally distributed for free by organisations to their staff.

According to the thecarebadge.org website, badges cost £1 plus VAT and care providers and organisations must order a minimum of 100 as well as paying £2.50 plus VAT for display trays if needed.

The badges are not sold directly to the public and all profits from the sale of CARE badges are distributed to care-related causes and charities, the website said.

The website currently says it is unable to accept new orders “due to changing circumstances”.

Mr Ashworth told the Today programme: “I think many people were slightly… raised their eyebrows, however, at the announcement of the new badge, given that it had been announced actually last year in fact.

“When really what we’re looking for is a proper credible plan to roll out testing of our hard-working, brave care staff, a proper, detailed plan to ensure that our care workers in care homes and delivering social care are getting the protective PPE they need.

“And of course this is a workforce which is characterised by often low-paid and insecure contracts and I think they actually deserve a fair pay rise.”

Rehana Azam, national officer of the GMB union, said care workers need more than a “pat on their head” and Andy Burnham, Labour mayor of Greater Manchester, added that a badge is “close to the bottom of the list” of things needed by carers.

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