Care workers

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2023 National Local Government Service Group Conference
2 February 2023

Conference commends the work carried out by local government service group members working in care across the UK despite the many continued challenges and pressures that they face.

Conference recognises that despite the differences in the delivery of social care throughout the UK, UNISON’s own National Care Service campaign represents a clear vision for the service that should be aspired to by all the nations. Conference believes that improved funding and consistent terms and conditions for care workers must ultimately be allied to insourcing of the service to bring about better standards of care for older people and disabled people.

Conference notes that the Covid pandemic starkly illustrated how a fragmented care system, in which local government commissions care services from thousands of private and non-profit care providers, largely employing care workers on terrible terms and conditions, leads to terrible outcomes for both care workers and the people they care for.

Conference recognises that the journey towards securing the widespread insourcing of care services back to local authorities will not be a quick one and applauds interim efforts being made to ensure that care employers are accountable for their treatment of their workers and are forced to abide by sectoral standards. Conference welcomes significant insourcing work being undertaken at a UK-wide level and within regions such as the North West that will potentially have positive results for local government care services.

Conference welcomes the research that is underpinning the National Care Service campaign which provides a clear template for improving social care and how it is being used to positively influence the approach of the Labour Party.

Conference supports the work of the Welsh government in seeking to establish its own National Care Service and welcomes the work of UNISON Cymru/Wales in helping to shape it.

Conference also supports the work of UNISON Scotland in leading and marshalling opposition to the Scottish government’s own National Care Service which would see local councils stripped of any legal responsibility for social care, in favour of quangos which will administer a system still based on a market in care where for-profit services predominate. It seeks to duplicate the ethos of the NHS in name only by failing to embrace the idea of public ownership and provision of care.

Conference also notes the continued scandal of sleep-in pay rates for care workers and the failure of the Westminster government to bring forward legislation that would ensure all hours workers are present for sleep-in shifts are treated as working time, and paid accordingly.

Conference therefore calls on the Service Group Executive to:

1)Campaign and build support for a national care service and to bring all care services back in-house;

2)Campaign for and lobby governments and social care employers to employ staff on terms and conditions directly equivalent to pay rates for comparable roles in the public sector;

3)Continue to campaign for local authorities to sign UNISON’s Ethical and Residential Care Charters, and support branches to monitor employers to ensure those with accreditation continue to adhere to all elements of the charters;

4)Continue to ensure that social care remains a priority campaign issue within the local government service group and as part of the union’s new joined up approach to the issue, and ensure UNISON is equipped at all levels to effectively recruit and organise across social care;

5)Continue to highlight the scandal of sleep-in pay rates across the UK and to raise the matter with the UK government, Low Pay Commission and HMRC;

6)Campaign for more funding to be given to councils across the UK in order to help fund the delivery of better-quality care services and better terms and conditions for care workers;

7)Promote examples of UNISON branches and regions which have managed to return care services back in-house and put pressure on all other councils to do the same;

8)Re-circulate UNISON’s ‘Bargaining for Insourcing’ guide, in particular drawing branches’ attention to Appendix 3, the model ‘Insourcing First’ motion.