Caring for our carers

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2023 National Local Government Service Group Conference
17 February 2023

Conference notes that many local government branches currently support care workers both employed directly by local government employers but also those employed by private companies contracted by local government employers to deliver care for elderly, disabled people – both adult and children.

Approximately 80% of the social care workforce are women. Only a small percentage of those are in qualified social work positions whilst the majority work both in care homes and out in the community. Many of the women working in the social care workforce are also in receipt of benefits and have also been impacted by the welfare reforms of the past few years.

There is a significant number of challenges for care workers, issues with how flexible they are expected to be in their working hours, no security of set hours contracts, significantly worse terms and conditions (if they are not NJC employees) amongst many more.

Branches sometimes find it difficult to engage and organise care workers with some working for agencies, in small homes or even being made to be self-employed. However, these are the very workers, in the main women, who need our union support the most.

Conference notes and applauds the successes that branches have where they organise and win for these workers. We congratulate Haringey Branch on their tribunal win where workers saw an average pay-out of £10,000 from their employers.

Conference also notes the work done to set up the Ethical Care Charter and applauds those branches who got their councils to sign up to it.

However, there is still more to be done to make caring a secure employment option and to ensure that members get the recognition and support that they deserve across all nations in the UK.

Care itself is also facing a staffing crisis, low wages and the workforce numbers falling. Conference believes it is right that UNISON calls for insourcing all care provision which should lead to better terms, conditions and wages for all care staff.

Therefore conference calls on the Service Group Executive to:

1)Continue to ensure that social care remains a priority campaign issue within the service group and as part of the union’s new joined up approach to the issue;

2)Continue to 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;

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

4)Develop guidance for branches, and regions, on negotiating on behalf of care workers, particularly those in the private sector.

5)Develop a fact sheet that branches can use for recruitment for care workers tailored to the needs of those working in care.

6)Develop guidance on recruiting activists from amongst social care employers and giving them ongoing support.