UNISON’s campaign to Save Our Local Services – SOS – will continue to highlight the damage done to services and communities after the success of the first SOS day across the country.
The campaign, led by the union’s local government service group, focused on social care for the day of action – pointing out that the services have lost almost £2bn from their budgets in the last 10 years.
And while the money available to deliver for social care has fallen, the number of older and disabled people who need support is growing.
This means bad news for those who use care services, their communities and the workers who provide the care they need.
“I agree with UNISON,” Labour’s Liz McInnes told fellow MPs last week, on the day of action. “Carers are an integral part of the healthcare system, and they must be valued and properly remunerated for the work carry out, year in, year out.”
The MP for Heywood and Middleton in Greater Manchester was speaking in an opposition debate on care, which came after a drop-in session with UNISON members at Parliament.
It also coincided with the launch of a new UNISON report, The Damage: Care in Crisis.
This showed that 63% of staff said they had less time to spend with people they care for, because of staff shortages, while two thirds reported fewer staff doing the care work and 70% said there was a greater care load.
Budget cuts over recent years mean care workers have more clients with more intensive needs, but less time to spend with them.
In short, said the report, “cuts have left a trail of destruction and this is affecting those in desperate need of care.
“Care workers do a vital job looking after the most vulnerable in society. But they’re not getting the support they need from their employers.”
Great Grimsby MP Melanie Onn reminded the government that “today is UNISON’s SOS—Save Our Local Services—day of action, so I join it in calling on the government to ensure that social care is properly funded, so that people in this country can be properly looked after.”
But the day wasn’t just about MPs and parliamentary debates: care workers and UNISON activists across England, Wales and Scotland got out and about on the streets and workplaces, to get the message out about the damage done to vital local services by years of cuts.
On the Channel coast, Poole UNISON organisers stood in a chilly wind on Poole high street, engaging with the public and recruiting members, while Kent local government branch reported a “great response” from workers at County Hall – and a potential new union steward.
And workers at Cysgod y Gaer care home in Denbighshire, north Wales, (pictured), were just some of the wide range of UNISON members – including general secretary Dave Prentis and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – who made a point of publicising their support for care with our special photo frames.