In councils across Wales we’re experiencing real pressures right now.

It’s been a really challenging two years, firstly with the floods of winter 2019/20, followed swiftly by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

We’re still experiencing Covid pressures with staff self-isolating, which continues to put pressure on essential services.

But the greatest pressures we’re experiencing at the moment are only tangentially related to the pandemic and they’re in social care. Our carers do a phenomenal job for vulnerable children and adults in our county and the work they do here in Monmouthshire is sector-leading in the UK. I have been privileged to join our night support team who won a national award for their work in supporting vulnerable residents.

In Monmouthshire, we’re proud that we pay the real living wage for our care workers and have done for many years, but this isn’t the case everywhere.

There are parts of Wales where you can earn far more stacking shelves in a supermarket than providing end-of-life care to some of our most vulnerable citizens. This cannot be right. For too long the caring profession has not been recognised for the important role it plays in a civilised society.

As a result, there are staff shortages in social care all over Wales and the pressures are greater than ever as we continue to deal with the fallout from the pandemic. This puts even more pressure on staff who remain in the system.

We need a national pay structure for carers and parity with other professions like teaching and nursing.

At the moment there are 22 different starting salaries for carers as there’s no uniformity across Wales.

Councils across the country are united in calling on Welsh Government to take steps to better recognise the value of the caring profession and pay carers appropriately.

These are measures which need to be taken at an all-Wales level rather than by individual local authorities.

There is nothing to be gained by councils taking measures in isolation to make social care jobs more attractive in one local authority over another because we would just be pinching each other’s staff rather than tackling the long-term issues of low pay and poor career progression.

That’s why all councils, across party divides are calling for action and I’m pleased that Monmouthshire is playing a key role in making the case for reform, so we can properly value the hard work, compassion and dedication of all our care workers.