Blog: King’s Speech is a missed opportunity

Where was the national care service? The problem is, this government isn’t listening to what the country needs

Christina McAnea, arms folded, in front of conference stage - 'Fighting for our future'

The King’s Speech today was a missed opportunity to announce plans for a national care service.

If the government is truly focused on “increasing economic growth and safeguarding the health and security of the British people for generations to come”, then a national care service would have been top of the list.

What better way to change this country for the better than by creating a service that will protect and look after those who need care, allow their relatives to stay in full-time work, give care workers improved conditions and decent pay that will boost local economies everywhere, as well as a real career with progression and recognition for their skills.

These arguments aren’t new – UNISON has been making them for years now, to any politician who will listen. We’ve got support from care workers and care organisations for our plans. The problem is, this government isn’t listening to what our country needs.

We welcome the government’s ambition to cut waiting lists and transform the long-term workforce of the NHS. This is, of course, a priority for UNISON, but we know the best way to release pressure on an overwhelmed NHS is to build a national care service.

Changing the country for the better has to be about public services. Social care is one of the biggest industries in the UK. Its impact is huge, the need for it is growing every day, and millions of people are missing out by not having a national care service to support them and their families.

This government has delivered nothing on social care and failed to protect care homes during the COVID pandemic. Their failure to help all those who need care is now a clear dereliction of a government’s first duty to protect its citizens.