Developing UNISON’s vision of a national care service

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2023 National Disabled Members' Conference
7 July 2023

Conference notes:

1)Many disabled people across the United Kingdom rely on daily care visits to maintain their independence through care visits and care packages.

2)Although the system of requesting and agreeing a care package sits with local authorities, care packages are often delivered by the private sector.

3)The care sector has been substantially privatised for many years, leading to a patchwork of support depending on the provider and on the postcode the person receiving care lives in.

4)Unlike the NHS, social care is not free at the point of use. Care Needs Assessments under the Care Act 2014 are normally undertaken by the local authority, which looks at eligible needs and whether an individual meets the threshold for having a level of needs that can be supported through a care package. Many disabled people are left having to pay substantial costs for their care.

5)Changes being proposed in Scotland under a new National Care Service (Scotland) Bill would remove responsibility for social care from local authorities, leading to a reduction in democratic control and further steps towards the commodification of care in a privatised market.

Conference believes:

1)Care Assessments should not be about eligibility for care but focus on what support is needed.

2)All social care should be provided through UNISON’s vision of a National Care Service as a funded, universal, free at the point of delivery service that works in the interests of all; an end to private companies making profit out of care and a commitment to deliver care services primarily through local government.

3)Fair work, decent pay and improved status should be the norm for all care workers.

4)Our vision also needs to include how care workers are directly employed by disabled people through personal budgets these workers are incorporated in nationally agreed terms, conditions and training, while maintaining disabled people’s independence and right to choose.

5)Equality and human rights and independent living, as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, should be central to the assessment and provision of care in the United Kingdom.

6)Disabled people have a right to be heard properly during Care Needs Assessments and be actively involved in shaping their care, and support and care packages should be shaped with, not for people.

Conference instructs the National Disabled Members Committee, working with appropriate parts of the union including service groups and the devolved nations to:

i)Continue to campaign for UNISON’s vision of a properly funded, free at the point of use National Care Service across the United Kingdom and in each devolved nation, and to campaign against attempts to reduce local democratic control and increase marketization of care, including supporting UNISON Scotland’s campaign to have the National Care Service (Scotland) Bill withdrawn.

ii)Seek opportunities to develop UNISON’s vision of a National Care Service to include care workers directly employed by disabled people and a framework for a fairer assessments system

iii)Encourage Regional Disabled Members’ Committees to work within appropriate structures to lobby elected representatives at local, regional and national levels to seek support for UNISON’s vision of a National Care Service and more inclusive Care Needs Assessments.