- 2007 Local Government Service Group Conference
- 16 June 2007
This Conference condemns the continued failure of Government to address the funding deficit in Social Care. The continued rationing of Social Care to those with the highest level of need means that more and more people with low and moderate needs are no longer eligible for services. Without that early intervention these people accelerate to higher levels of dependency, making a mockery of Government’s rhetoric about targeting resources on early intervention.
Across the UK underfunding and draconian efficiency targets are driving a continued push for privatisation despite the well-documented damage this is doing to the quality of social care services and to the pay and working conditions of UNISON members.
It is clear that pay levels in the private care sector barely rise above minimum wage with little or no provision for pensions, staff training or sick pay. With staff turnover at up to 36%, many vulnerable clients in the private care sector suffer a serious lack of continuity of care.
Conference is also alarmed at the potential for a further deterioration in services to vulnerable adults, if the Government persists in pushing expansion of the Voluntary Sector provision, which is likely to have the same disastrous consequences as in the private sector. We further note that many migrants, including workers in the public sector, are excluded from any service even if severely ill.
Conference notes that in England, Wales and Scotland there are a range of Government policies aimed at extending and embedding integrated working between health and social care. In Northern Ireland, existing integrated arrangements are subject to wholesale restructuring. Conference believes that the goal of integration is incompatible with the continual push to outsource, and with acute funding pressures which are causing NHS cost-shunting and a retreat from pooled budget arrangements. The continued fragmentation of social care provision including the expansion of fixed term contracts and the increased casualisation of the social care workforce will act as a further barrier to integration.
Conference further notes the positive work being undertaken nationally by UNISON in working co-operatively with Government Departments in finding ways to protect children and vulnerable adults, specifically in line with the recommendations from the Bichard report, such as the Information Sharing Index.
We note from recent London briefings that there will be new definitions of vulnerable and extended coverage to include ‘controlled activity’ which will mean vast numbers of workers delivering public services will be affected, both directly employed and contracted out staff.
We support the principle of one vetting and barring scheme, which will replace the 3 current schemes i.e.
However this Conference expresses concern that proposals for the new vetting and barring scheme may include a financial charge on individual workers undergoing vetting, as fit to work in areas where children or vulnerable adults may be present.
Already many staff and more to follow, throughout the country, have to pay for their own registration with the appropriate Care Council. Asking some of the lowest paid workers in the UK to pay to be put on a second register could act as a deterrent to working in the care sector at a time when recruitment and retention in many areas is at its worst.
UNISON is uniquely placed as the trade union to be able to deal with issues which cross the Health and Social Care Sectors. Conference believes that there are many issues that need to be resolved in order to allow integration arrangements to function successfully and protect UNISON members who work in these services.
Conference therefore calls on the Service Group Executive to:-
1.Continue to campaign for adequate funding for social care services which makes early intervention and prevention a reality for those in need.
2.Reject the increase in use of TUPE transfers to such as “social enterprise companies” and continue to promote in-house provision as the best solution to the challenge of providing person-centred and democratically accountable services which are able to respond positively to the drive for multi-agency integration.
3.Resist all attempts to deliver Social Care services via casualised workforces as this will lead to a further deprofessionalisation of the workforce and attacks on basic conditions of service and to support branches carrying out lawful industrial action called in accordance with UNISON’s industrial action procedure which defends jobs pay and working conditions to care workers. Any move by employers to remove enhancements for evening/weekend and night work for care staff as part of the implementation of job evaluation schemes should be rejected
4.Call on Ministers in all four countries to work with UNISON to develop and implement sustainable solutions to the recruitment and retention crisis facing the social care workforce
5.Challenge any proposal which places further financial burden in regard to registration schemes
6.Work closely with the Health Service Group Executive, regions, branches and appropriate forums to:
arecognise the need to address cross-branch and service group issues;
bprovide support for branches to work jointly and co-operatively in responding to integrated care initiatives
cdevelop advice and guidance on negotiating terms and conditions and providing representation where more than one employer is involved in the provision of a service.
7.Campaign against the exclusion of asylum seekers and migrant workers from social care services and support workers who seek to ensure that services are delivered with due regard to issues of equality and human rights