“For all the things that are wrong with the care system in this country, we have a workforce that are passionate and committed. They care desperately about the people they look after. That’s a fantastic place to start in trying to build a care system that works.”

Christina McAnea, UNISON assistant general secretary

But care workers are not treated fairly. Care is in crisis, thanks to a system that has been underfunded and ignored by governments for years. Care workers and the people that they look after are paying the price.

That’s why we are campaigning for change. We are fighting to win:

  1. Decent jobs, including:
    • A real living wage
    • Full pay for sleep-in’s and travel time
    • Fair contracts, no zero hours
    • Enough time to care
    • A safe working environment
  2. Quality standards: A national framework for care, with pay and training linked to standards.
  3. Fair funding: We are building political alliances and public support to get the right solutions for care workers and care users.

We are going to win change. But we need your help to do it.

The Postcode Lottery

Get your council to sign UNISON’s Ethical Care Charter. 45 councils in the UK have already – yours can too. It will improve care for elderly, sick and disabled people in your area AND deliver the real living wage and better working conditions for care workers.

Check if your council have signed the charter using our postcode checker. If not, just email your councillor, it takes one minute.

Check your area & email your councillor


Chancellor Rishi Sunak with the red Budget box

‘Make it a workers’ budget,’ UNISON urges chancellor

General secretary to call for an end to the pay freeze, real living wage for care workers and proper investment in local government

Gloved hand holding vial of COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine booking system now open to frontline care workers in England

UNISON welcomes announcement that care workers who haven’t had a dose yet can make an appointment

‘I can’t afford to retire’ – why carers need a living wage

Three out of four care workers don’t earn the living wage. UNISON vice president Sian Stockham is one of them and is leading the fight to raise carers’ pay

Behind the headlines, Magazine, UNISON people on the Magazine site.

‘I can’t afford to retire’ – why carers need a living wage

Three out of four care workers don’t earn the living wage. UNISON vice president Sian Stockham is one of them and she’s leading the national fight to raise carers’ pay

Overhauling care sector is the answer to staff shortages

High vacancy rates show system is broken

The Issue

Successive governments have failed to allocate enough money to deliver quality care. The situation is at breaking point.

Care work is beset by:

  • Poverty pay – the average rate of pay just above the legal minimum
  • Unreliable, vulnerable employment – one in four care workers is on a zero-hours contract
  • Impossible shift rotas and not being given enough time to care
  • Violence and aggression -Nearly a third (31%) of care workers have experienced personal threats or even been attacked
  • Staff routinely leave the profession – annual turnover was almost 31%

The current system fails to prioritise high quality care over profits and has left the sector on the brink of collapse. According to the Kings Fund, local authority spending on social care for older people has fallen in real terms by 17 per cent since 2009/10. In July 2019, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee called for an immediate £8 billion cash injection into adult social care to restore the quality of and access to adult social care to acceptable levels. The funding crisis has it’s source in Westminster, but the effects are being felt across the whole of the UK.

Enough is enough. Care workers and care users deserve decent care. We are fighting for good jobs and sustainable funding for social care.


Check if your council has signed UNISON’s Ethical Care Charter using our postcode checker. If not, 45 councils in the UK already have, so ask your councillor to use their influence to ensure your council does too. It takes one minute.

Check your area & email your councillor

Order or download leaflets, posters and graphics to help build the campaign’s visibility and bring more people on board.

Build visibility


Building on success

UNISON organises, represents and campaigns for
care workers. We are the UK’s biggest union,
with 1.3 million members, and the biggest union
in social care. We have a plan to change care and we are building on our formidable experience in the sector.

  • We are exposing the scandalous working conditions care workers are exposed to, and demanding action from employers.
  • We have taken a case to the Supreme Court, to get overnight ‘sleep-in’ shifts treated as ‘working time’, so care workers can be paid fairly for them.
  • We negotiate with national care providers and local employers to win care workers better pay and working conditions.
  • We are lobbying politicians and other decision makers to get the money which is so desperately needed, put into social care.
  • We want to plug the leaks in social care funding by ending the scandal of care money being used to fund debt arrangements for private companies
  •  We are campaigning for the status of care work to be raised, with proper structures for qualifications, training and career development.


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