A HEREFORDSHIRE man is speaking out about his "poverty-level pay" as a carer, despite Members of Parliament receiving a salary increase.

Simon Bastian, a 64-year-old care worker from Kington, says it is unfair that as carers continue to struggle on minimum wage, MPs are now being paid thousands more per year.

Despite his love for his job, he is considering leaving the profession as he struggles to make ends meet. His total income last year was £13,590.42, and received a 56p per hour pay rise on April 1.

Mr Bastian has been a carer in Herefordshire for eight years, working on a zero-hour contract. He stresses the toll his job can take, as he regularly deals with complex medical conditions and cares for people who are dying.

He explained that he feels "taken advantage of by politicians of all parties", and that carers, unlike some medical professionals, do not strike.

He said: "My wages have not gone up other than in line with the national minimum wage since I started this job.

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"Care workers are treated as the lowest priority, but we were working while politicians were holding parties in Covid. Social care is the backbone of society. It demands a decent wage, not a poverty-level one.

"I love the job. I've worked in many professions throughout my life. This one is the best but it's also the worst paid. I'm now considering something else, because I can't afford to keep doing it."

He continued: "We deal with complex medical issues, from palliative care to end of life, and looking after people with sometimes extreme psychological problems including schizophrenia and violent dementia. We witness alarming conditions such as gangrene and necrosis.

"We are expected to fulfil some of the duties that only nurses used to do, applying dressings and monitoring medicine.

"We are expected to be medical experts, financial consultants and eventually grief counsellors for families. And unlike doctors and nurses, we don't strike."

Mr Bastian has created an online petition as well as appealing to MPs directly by emailing them.

Hereford Times: Mr Bastian has written to all MPsMr Bastian has written to all MPs (Image: Rob Davies)

"I wrote to all MPs protesting this disparity, some 650 of them," he said. 

"I had a reply from 23. In any case, most were automated responses stating that I wasn't in their constituency. My reply was that this is an issue outside of constituency boundaries, for each MP to consider. I received a reply from Jesse Norman but nothing from Sir Bill Wiggin."

The Hereford Times contacted Sir Bill for comment, and he responded: "I take letters from my constituents very seriously. I always reply. I replied to Mr Bastian's email on April 9.

"He did not confirm his address and he did not take up my offer of assistance. He has emailed me once in the past and he was provided with a full response, but failed to confirm his address.

"As I understand, my colleague Jesse Norman MP can find no record of being contacted by Mr Bastian.

"Mr Bastian is right to point out that he has received increases in the minimum and living wages in the budgets, which Labour voted against.

"He will also have been lifted by the increase in tax-free income allowances as well as the two recent cuts in national insurance contributions, also opposed by Labour.

"He will find that the Prime Minister's cancellation of HS2 has released £106 million for road repairs and another £101 million for transport in Herefordshire.

"This will not fill in the potholes immediately but the Conservative council's decision to retender the Balfour Beatty contract will ensure best value as our roads are repaired.

"I hope that this will keep his and everyone's wheels in better condition as we look again at a bypass, cancelled by the Green and independent councillors.

"He did not mention the £35 million given to deliver the river Wye recovery plan.

"Mr Bastian will, I hope, have been protected by the Government's energy scheme although the furlough scheme, which saved so many jobs, would not apply to him.

"He will certainly appreciate the drop in inflation. Getting inflation down is so important as it eats into savings and income alike.

"Mr Bastian will, I hope, appreciate the new wards, extra beds and the future diagnostic centre at Hereford Hospital."


In Mr Bastian's spare time, he is an artist and is calling for MPs to buy a piece of his artwork depicting his Covid-19 personal protective equipment.

Hereford Times: Simon Bastian with his artworkSimon Bastian with his artwork (Image: Rob Davies)

"It would serve as the perfect reminder, hanging on their office walls, that they are meant to be serving the public, not serving themselves," he said, explaining that the piece is based on the sale of defective PPE during the pandemic.

The profits from any sales would then go to charity, with Mr Bastian saying he doesn't want MPs' money for himself.

Jesse Norman, the MP for South Herefordshire, was approached for comment but has not responded at the time of publication.