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Social care is broken. The current fragmented and privatised system is unfit to meet the needs of everyone who relies upon it. But a better way is possible. 

Most social care in England is commissioned by local government and delivered by private and independent companies. The system has been run down by a combination of huge funding cuts to councils and profit extraction by some providers.

National standards  are not properly enforced and care workers often face poverty wages and exploitation. Pay for care workers is at rock-bottom minimum wage rates, even though it’s a difficult, skilled job that requires them to take on huge responsibilities. Some receive even less because they are not paid adequately for travel time or for overnight sleep-in shifts.

Care workers are the beating heart of a system that should look after our loved ones with compassion and kindness. Care workers must be valued, recognised and rewarded as skilled professionals. 

We know it’s time for radical change. Social care should become part of a nationally recognised institution which can respond to the needs of older and disabled people, improving and enriching their lives. As the largest union in the care sector, UNISON is now leading the campaign for a National Care Service.

We want to see a National Care Service that: 

  • gives access to quality care for all those who need it. 
  • is focused on providing world-class social care, not delivering profits for shareholders. 
  • has national pay, terms and conditions for all care workers and a proper workforce plan. 
  • has the long-term and adequate funding for a high-quality care service. 
  • includes an emergency pay boost for all care workers, helping to end the staffing crisis. 

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Social care is a cause close to the heart of UNISON’s general secretary Christina McAnea. As a long-term advocate for care workers and co-chair of the Future Social Care Coalition, one of her key priorities is for the  union to lead ​a long-overdue reform of the social care system. 

“We need a national care service – like the NHS. Care workers need parity of esteem with their colleagues in the health service. We’ve seen how the two systems are completely intertwined – if one fails, so will the other. Social care can no longer be treated as the forgotten frontline.
(Blog: ‘Now is the time to end this national scandal’)

So how can you get involved in the campaign?

Sign the petition asking all MPs to introduce a national care service.

Add my name

Work in care? Tell us about your thoughts on the current state of social care in England.

Take our survey

If you don’t work in social care but want to show your support, sign up to hear more about UNISON’s campaign for a national care service:

NCS sign up form

  • We will only use the email address you provide to contact you about UNISON's campaign for a National Care Service

We are the largest union in the care sector so join us today and be part of this essential campaign.


Spread the word on social media – make sure you use the hashtag #LetsMakeCareWork. Let’s get the whole nation calling for a national care service. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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Find out more about UNISON’s Ethical Care Charter, Residental Care Charter and Coronavirus advice for care workers.



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

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Curbing the migrant care workforce will cause utter disaster

Blog: The shocking treatment of migrant workers harms us all

The government should stop demonising migrants, instigate reform and create a national care service

Rosie MacGregor moving a motion on care at NDC 2023, Liverpool

Care dominates debate at national delegate conference

What’s happening with adult social care in England and the devolved nations, provided a comprehensive debate on day two of national delegate conference

Support Guaranteed: The roadmap to a national care service

A new report from the Fabian Society was launched at Westminster last week

Launch event of the Fabian report 'Support Guarenteed' showing a top table with 5 speakers. Ben Cooper, Christina McAnea, Dr Anna Dixon, West Streeting MP and Andrew Harrop. Seated in front of Fabians graphics.

Roadmap launched for a national care service to transform lives, says UNISON 

A national care service would boost wages, put quality above profit-making and ensure everyone receives the support they need.