More than a third of the county’s care homes have dealt with outbreaks of Covid-19 in the last three months, Shropshire Council has revealed.

The figures were disclosed at a scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday after questions were asked about how many cases of coronavirus had been reported at care homes and how many homes had been affected.

Calls were also made for the authority to commit to ensuring all care staff receive the "real" living wage of £9.30 per hour in recognition of their efforts throughout the pandemic.

Councillor Claire Wild, chair of the performance management scrutiny committee, said 41 out of the 120 care homes in the authority’s area had experienced a confirmed or suspected outbreak – defined as two or more cases – between March 2 and June 3.

She added that the council was aware of one more care home with a reported outbreak since that date, and that seven outbreaks were still ongoing.

No data is yet available for the total number of cases reported in care settings, but Councillor Wild said all staff and residents were currently being tested and a fuller picture would emerge once these results were available.

Councillor Ruth Houghton said the vital role care staff had played in supporting vulnerable people through the crisis should be rewarded with a commitment for better pay going forward.

She said: “Carers working across the social care sector in Shropshire have been critical key workers during the current coronavirus situation.

“The care sector has also experienced difficulty in recruiting staff.

“What opportunities and prospects are there for Shropshire Council to fund and deliver the real living wage of £9.30 per hour, adequate and enlightened pension provision and associated attractive employment terms and conditions to all carers working within the Shropshire social care network?”

Councillor Wild said calculations were based on the UK Home Care Association recommendations for care workers’ contact and travel time, national insurance and pension contribution, sick pay and mileage costs – taking into account the rurality of the county.

“Using this calculation the minimum rate of pay to meet these costs works out at £14.85 per hour,” said Councillor Wild.

“The current top rate for domiciliary care in Shropshire is £19.20, with the minimum rate being increased to £16.50, and is therefore considered sufficient to meet the increased costs generated by the 6.2 per cent national living wage increase and still allow for a variety of running costs according to different business sizes.

“In addition on April 1, 2020, the new standard personal assistant rate increased from £8.62 to £9.30 an hour."