Crisis in social care

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2019 Local Government Service Group Conference
19 February 2019

Conference recognises that the crisis in social care continues apace across the UK as councils suffer the consequences of almost a decade of underfunding. According to the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, £7bn has been cut from social care budgets since 2010. UNISON members have spoken out about the impact of cuts on the quality of care they deliver and on their personal lives. Significant numbers of low paid care workers have spent their own money on supporting care users and even had to bring along food for them.

UNISON research has shown non-compliance with the minimum wage remains a major problem in social care. The majority of councils in England, Wales and Scotland are still not forcing the homecare providers that they commission to pay workers for their travel time. UNISON is pursuing a high profile legal case to ensure that all the time spent working on sleep-in shifts counts towards calculation of the minimum wage for care workers.

The social care crisis will only be solved when services are properly funded, privatisation is reversed, and steps are taken to ensure that care workers are given fair treatment to allow them to deliver good quality care. Accordingly conference welcomes the fact that 20% of councils in England, Wales and Scotland have now adopted the Ethical Care Charter to improve care standards and treatment of the workforce in the homecare sector (up from 10% in 2017). Conference also welcomes the co-ordination of future work on social care across the service groups.

Conference therefore instructs the service group executive, working with the new cross-service group project board, to:

1)Take steps to ensure that UNISON service groups work together on social care issues;

2) Carry out research to determine where the money goes in our largely privatised care system and what local councils can do to rebuild their ability to deliver these services again in-house;

3) Continue its efforts to force the government, councils and providers to improve compliance with the National Living Wage in the care sector as a bare minimum across the UK, to improve compliance with the Scottish Living Wage for all care workers in Scotland, and to continue to campaign for the foundation living wage for care workers throughout the rest of the UK;

4) Promote further take-up of UNISON’s Ethical Care Charter and Residential Care Charter as a basis to improve the working conditions of care workers whilst organising and recruiting in the sector and ensure that councils that adopt the charters comply with their requirements;

5) Work with regions and branches to ensure that all local authorities and other public service providers in Cymru/Wales comply with the Code of Practice for Ethical Employment in Supply Chains, and work with the NEC to campaign for similar codes for the rest of the UK;

6) Work with Labour Link to try to positively influence the Labour Party’s approach to resolving the social care crisis;

7) Support care workers who are European Union nationals in their fight for the right to continue to work in the care sector as well as providing support for all other migrant workers in the care sector.