Social Care, Privatisation and Disability

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2010 Local Government Service Group Conference
19 February 2010

Conference restates its support for the principle that disabled people should have as much independence and control over their own care and support arrangements as is right for them whether by opting for local authority provision or through direct payments, provision should be subjected to a level playing field of regulation regimes, financial scrutiny, employment laws, health and safety and training requirements.


Conference is concerned that the focus of personalisation is solely on direct payments and expanding the private market rather than developing good models of workforce practice within council provided care and support services. We believe that rather than giving disabled people more choice and control over their lives personalisation is becoming synonymous with less choice and greater inequality in the services available because of unregulated social care provisions.

Privatised social care is also having a domino effect on other important public services such as the closure of day centres and community transport systems. Such closures are reported to be increasing social isolation, reducing community cohesion and leaving people feeling vulnerable to abuse and hostility.

Research by Glendinning and Bell in 2008 suggests that cash payments alone, without appropriate services which they can be used to purchase, also risk institutionalising low paid or unpaid informal carers and trapping relatives in enforced dependency on the person they are caring for, this is particularly important where genetic long term health conditions impact on the extended family opportunities for work life balance opportunities. Examples of poor working conditions also may include:

1Low pay – most homecare workers are on minimum wage – with no payment for transport or time between visits and some are being asked to pay for their uniforms, mobile telephone calls etc

2Private agencies saying that they have no money for training and the lack of a clear career progression or substantial remuneration reward for acquiring NVQ results in little incentive for training

3Professional registration – General Social Care Council no longer registering homecare staff or personal assistants – the implications are that work force development and profesionalisation of care will not be embedded in the roll out of personalisation

4Personalisation is currently being rolled out with no framework to regulate all workers and employers equally.

5There needs to be standard national guidelines to ensure that people using direct payments to employ care workers are fully equipped to meet all their legal responsibilities as employers and employees are clear of their employment rights and responsibilities

6The lack of a Code of Practice on the employment of Personal Assistants, and a framework for pay and conditions needs to be developed

7National guidelines on risk and vulnerability are needed to end the current uncertainty of where boundaries of risk assessment and responsibility lie between social workers, care mangers and budget brokers and budget holders

8Personal Assistants are not part of the Vetting and barring and safeguarding regulations

This Conference calls upon the Local Government Service Group Executive to lobby government and campaign for:

a)A universal model of national social care based on the principles of the NHS paid through general taxation and National Insurance that enables resources for good quality care services, improved pay and working conditions especially for disabled staff and for staff shortages in the private sector to be addressed

b)Less focus on the private market and more on developing a local ring fenced in-house public home care workforce as a sustainable choice for disabled people just wanting a personal budget rather than a direct payment

c)Cash for care (direct payments) managed individually whist allowing users to opt to buy council services and support if they wish, with up rating each year to reflect rising costs so they maintain their real value.