The reality of social care – unfunded increase in pay

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2020 National Women's Conference
22 October 2019
Carried as Amended

Conference notes with concern the continuing pressures on council-funded social care services. Social care services and the NHS both face increasing demands and new challenges including an ageing population, lifestyle changes, public expectations and new and emerging medical and digital technologies.Conference is aware of the need to develop a long-term workforce strategy in partnership with employers to respond to these pressures and notes our commitment to working in a social partnership with employers and government/s to design and deliver changes across the workforce recognising the importance and value of volunteers and carers.Conference is clear that a significant number of those who work in social care and volunteers are women and are not just an important asset to the sector, but as members of local communities, they also contribute greatly to the wider economic prosperity and sustainability of our country. Therefore, an effective workforce strategy for social care services has a considerable value in the context of a prosperous United Kingdom. Conference is of the view that the government needs to view what we spend on this workforce as an investment, not a cost to the public purse. Conference is concerned that far from developing an effective workforce strategy for social care, typically, the social care workforce, made up predominantly by women, is offered low wages and poor quality employment, with employers often utilising zero hour contracts. With a consequent high turnover of staff, our �best practice� is now faltering and we are also losing a vital experience in the delivery of services to the detriment of our communities. This is the impact of continued austerity measures implemented by a Westminster government on the remuneration for this workforce. Conference recognises the complexities of funding arrangements for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland but wants to see this largely female workforce properly valued and fairly paid in order to provide the quality services we and our families all deserve. Unfunded pay increases lead to cuts in jobs and services which is not sustainable. Conference would like to see investment in a workforce strategy not piecemeal cuts.Conference, we therefore call on the National Women’s Committee to work with the NEC and Labour Link Committee to put women at the heart of our campaigning on social care, calling for:1)Better funding for social care services, highlighting the inadequacy of funding arrangements across the nations and the impact on women in particular;2)Strategic workforce plans across the nations that recognise the value of a fairly paid, motivated largely female workforce to stable, good quality social care services and the benefits of this to the wider economy; 3)Better pay and service conditions for social care workers, highlighting that this is a predominantly female and undervalued workforce;4)Promoting the importance of councils directly delivering a substantial proportion of domiciliary and residential care in-house, which is better for the staff, largely women, delivering the care;5)Promoting UNISON�s Ethical Care Charter as a requirement for all procured services