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2016 National Retired Members Conference
9 June 2016

Conference welcomes the continuing progress being made with UNISON’s Ethical Care Charter and the broader campaign rebranded ‘Save Care Now’.

Social care budgets in England have been slashed by £2.68 billion in the last three years. The government claims the 2% precept English councils have been permitted to add to Council Tax will raise £2 billion to replace part of this but many think this is an over-estimate. Besides, raising money this way is regressive and unfair to areas with a low council tax base.

Despite this unprecedented financial crisis, a stream of councils continues to sign up to the Ethical Care Charter with its linked aims of decent pay and conditions for home care workers and a dignified service for users.

Up to 220,000 home care workers are paid below the National Minimum Wage mainly because they are not paid for travel time between calls and/or not paid for training. Nearly a million are paid below the Living Wage which is UNISON’s benchmark. The introduction of the so-called National Living Wage without government funding is likely to make matters worse as companies seek savings in order to pay the higher hourly rate.

In a report in 2015, UNISON highlighted inadequate levels of training and support throughout the mainly privatised service and how this impacts on quality of service. This report recognised the skill and commitment of the great majority of home care workers in spite of this.

Conference recognises how much remains to be done to improve the pay and conditions, recruitment and organisation of home care workers, to tackle issues of service quality and resolve the financial crisis threatening social care.

Conference instructs the National Retired Members’ Committee to work with the Local Government Service Group Executive, the National Home Care Forum, and other UNISON bodies as appropriate to enable retired members to contribute to this campaign. This should, among other things, include:

1. Using the electronic replacement of Interactive to promote the campaign and keep retired members up to date;

2. Promoting to retired members the e-tool which generates emails to councillors so there can be sustained local lobbying; and,

3. Promoting joint working at branch and regional level including with UNISON Labour Link.