Funding for Social Services

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2003 Local Government Service Group Conference
21 February 2003

This Conference wishes to applaud the efforts of all those who work in social care providing crucial services to the most vulnerable members of our communities. We believe that it is only the dedication of these workers which has kept services running while government and employers have failed to provide the leadership and the funding which is needed.

We deplore the continuing failure of employers to confront the scandal of low pay and to deal with the growing staffing crisis which affects every grade and type of social care worker. We condemn the government for its failure to ensure that increases in funding are reflected in increases in pay levels. In services where 80% of the expenditure goes on staffing costs, it is ludicrous to suggest that improved standards can be achieved without boosting the pay levels of all grades of staff.

We further condemn ministers in England for responding to concerns about standards with a series of initiatives which call for structural change, and imply that responsibility for running services should be transferred from democratically accountable local authorities to other bodies which have little or no direct local accountability (e.g. primary care trusts, care trusts, children’s trusts, etc). UNISON believes that the link between the service user, the local community, the elected councillor, and the social work or services department is the best mechanism for ensuring that services are responsive to local needs. We urge ministers to realise that a pre-occupation with structures, and their perceived wish to put services under the control of quangos, is deeply resented by social care workers who need organisational stability and better funding, not endless reorganisations.

Conference therefore calls on the SGE to campaign for:

1)Funding for social services over and above the 6% increase already announced

2)Acceptance by government that extra money should be available for employers to increase wage levels, employ more staff and provide training opportunities for all grades of staff

3)Funding at levels which ensure that external providers offer pay and conditions which are no worse than those used by local authorities

Conference welcomes the efforts made to achieve co-ordination between UNISON reps in the four countries over the codes of conduct but calls for close working on the issues of pay, recruitment, retention and registration.