Underfunding of Social Care Services for Adults

Back to all Motions

2006 Local Government Service Group Conference
14 June 2006

Conference deplores the gross underfunding of care services for adults in all parts of the UK and recognises that those for the elderly and adults with disabilities are particularly threatened. Conference expresses its deep concern on the effect that this underfunding is having on the jobs and working conditions of our members working in these sectors.

Conference further believes that there is a great need for a review of the challenges and demands facing Social Care in Local Government together with a need to ensure adequate funding to deliver care fit for the 21st century is made available. This would ensure quality of service for users and decent pay and conditions for our 300,000 members employed in Social Care, many of whom are low paid women workers working long hours in understaffed care homes or day centres.

Since the split between children’s and adult care services in England it is clear that the statutory requirements for children’s services is leading to adult care becoming the poor relation in the provision of Social Care. In addition the chronic underfunding of adult care and the continuing drive to achieve savings under efficiency reviews is leading to escalating privatisation of whole sectors of adult care but particularly in Home Care. In England the Government is also looking to the voluntary sector to become the core provider of care without adequate funding. It is also leading to a substantial increase in the use of “agency staff” which threatens the pay and jobs of our members employed in adult care. This in turn is adding to the already serious problems of recruitment and retention of staff.

This conference welcomes the current review of Social Care carried out by Sir Derek Wanless, but regrets that it is not funded by Government but by the Kings Fund. In 2001 the Wanless review of future Health spending in the United Kingdom identified a massive shortfall in Social Care funding for Local Government. This laid the ground for the Chancellor to announce in the 2002 English Government budget a £40billion cash injection for Social Care paid for from a rise in National Insurance contributions to both employees and employers. The new Wanless report could assist in identifying the underfunding of Social Care in Local Government and the likelihood of increasing future demands in Social Care provision.

Conference notes that some 486,000 people are looked after in independent and Local Authority run care homes, down 9,600 in the last 12 months. Care home places peaked in 1996, but have dropped by 89,000 with more people being looked after in their own homes. This in itself is more costly, especially in large rural counties. As well as affecting service delivery, this has a knock on effect of reducing spending available for other Local Authority spending.

The white paper “Our Health, Our Care, Our Say” published in February this year, sets out the English Governments proposals for integrated Social Care services for adults in England. What the paper fails to mention is that the plans the Government have will require substantial additional resources if they are to be achieved. The paper also proposes a significant increase in the “Direct Payments” system for service users. Experience of “Direct Payments” to date is that they require substantial additional resources if they are to work effectively. Without these additional resources they make a disproportionate demand on the already under resourced services being provided and in turn threaten our members jobs and the provision of services. Whilst it is clear that there is growing pressure from some service users to expand the “Direct Payments” system this needs to be balanced against the effects on resources and our member’s jobs and working conditions.

Conference therefore calls on the Service Group Executive to:-

1) Tell MP’s, Welsh Assembly Members, Members of the Scottish Parliament and all UK ministers to halt any further “reforms” on the provision of social care until proper funding can be assured

2) Campaign for a massive increase in Local Government Social Care spending to improve service delivery and secure the position of our members

3) Call on Ministers in all four Countries to work with Unison to develop strategies for improving services

4) Call on Ministers in all four Countries to provide access to training opportunities that will ensure that workers skill levels are increased and career development takes place through such initiatives as the joint Unison/Open University Social Work degree.

5) Urge Social Care ministers in England to review the impact of splitting adult and children’s services to ensure that they are both adequately resourced and that no new barriers to “joined up” services are created

6) Exploit the opportunities of the Wanless report on social care

7) Call on the English Government to ensure that Adult Care services are “pump primed” to make the proposals in the white paper workable

8) Work with the NEC to influence the social care agenda

9) Consult with UNISON’s National Disabled Committee, the Social Services and Home Care forums over the issue of Direct Payments” with a view to bringing a position statement to the 2007 conference

Finally conference agrees to reaffirm the belief that public service provision is both the most effective and efficient means of delivering high quality locally based Social Care and that personal care should be free, as in Scotland