Council provided care

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2023 National Local Government Service Group Conference
17 February 2023
Carried as Amended

Conference notes the campaigns for a National Care Service in each of the 4 nations and UNISON’s support, in principle, for such a proposal.

Local government in Scotland, Wales and England and that any proposals for a National Care Service should respect and build upon this.

Conference notes that social care is essentially a community-based service, supporting and providing care to people living in their own homes or close to their community. Local government is the most appropriate place to co-ordinate care and link it with other community based services such as housing, primary health care, leisure and voluntary organisations.

Conference recognises the need for change in the social care sector. The current system of care provision does not value staff or service users. It has created a low paid workforce and fails to recognise the skills required for the high-quality social care that our most vulnerable citizens deserve. The current system across the UK enables and promotes a market approach which has seen for-profit companies take over many care services, driving down pay and conditions and directing profits to shareholders, many of whom do not even live in the UK. Often, when these companies fail, councils have to pick up the services with taxpayers’ money and the failure to provide quality social care services causes delays in people being discharged from hospital.

Conference believes that a local government based care system built on ethical standards, on a not-for-profit basis, is essential to cater for the needs of our citizens and to ensure the best possible terms and conditions for social care staff.

In Scotland, UNISON has opposed the current National Care Service (Scotland) Bill, in part, because it is an attack on local government and the local government social care and social work staff.

If passed the Bill in its current form will enable services to be taken out of the democratic control of councils and placed in the hands of care boards – quangos responsible only to ministers. It will also enable all social work services to be removed from council control to be the responsibility of care boards which will not deliver services directly but procure them – from public, third sector and private providers. In total, 75,000 workers could be transferred out of councils.

The moves will devastate local government, removing over a third of the workforce and having knock on effect to services elsewhere in councils that currently support the social care and social work services, such as HR and payroll. It threatens the pension entitlements of the council social care and social work members. UNISON has a policy of protecting local government and the services they provide. The Scottish government’s proposal flies in the face of all we have collectively fought for.

This has highlighted the need for us to articulate what we believe a care service should look like. We commend the UNISON Cymru Wales commissioned APSE report where, if the proposals contained in it were implemented, would mean a care service that is based on council provided services and the insourcing of private sector care provision.

Conference calls on the SGE to:

1)Continue to campaign for local government to retain the duty to provide social care services;

2)Develop proposals that would see an end to the domination of social care by the for-profit sector and greater insourcing of services and their staff, so that social care is publicly delivered as well as publicly controlled;

3)Support the campaign to have the current NCS (Scotland) Bill withdrawn and learn lessons in the other nations from the Scottish experience.