Around 160,000 social care workers in the UK are being paid less than the minimum wage, it has been claimed.

Research from the Resolution Foundation shows that the pay of over 11% of the 1.4 million care workers falling short of minimum wage – meaning that 160,000 workers are missing out on an average of £815 a year.

Collectively, social care workers are short by £130m a year because of the "failure of employers" to pay staff at a level which is not in breach of the national minimum wage (£6.50 an hour for those aged 21 and over). In addition, this means £9m a year which would be paid back in taxes.

Laura Gardiner, senior research and policy analyst at of the Resolution Foundation, said: "Every worker has the right to the minimum wage, yet illegal non-payment is all too common in the social care sector. It's scandalous that these workers, who do such demanding and valuable work, are being cheated out of £130m every year through what is effectively wage theft by their employers.

"Diminishing public funding and ever tighter commissioning practices are placing great pressure on care providers, but there is simply no excuse for breaking the law."

"As well as helping to attract and retain staff and boosting the incomes of low-paid workers, better pay would ultimately lead to improvements in care quality."