A national care service would transform the lives of millions of people, as well as dramatically improving the careers and fortunes of workers delivering vital support, says UNISON today (Monday).
Labour’s proposed overhaul of the sector would herald fairer pay and reverse the growing job vacancy trend that means thousands of people are currently unable to get the social care packages they desperately need, the union says.
Speaking at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool today, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said:
“In Boris Johnson’s final departing insult to the country, he had the cheek to claim that, ‘like a rocket booster’, he’d fixed social care.
“That came as a total surprise to everyone working in the sector and all those reliant upon it.
“Far from being fixed, social care is in a worse state than ever before. It’s propped up by underpaid and undervalued employees, including exploited migrant workers.
“There are 160,000 care worker vacancies and thousands of hospital beds are taken up every day by patients needing social care that’s not available. But last week in Manchester, the Conservatives had nothing to say on care.
“The Tories have no social care plan now and haven’t had one for the past 13 years. They’ve neglected everyone needing support and ignored all the workers delivering it.
“People say Labour needs to be ambitious. And there’s nothing more ambitious than a national care service. This would transform the lives of 1.5 million care workers and guarantee support for everyone who need help day-in, day-out.
“It would also revolutionise one of the biggest industries in the UK, with its predominantly female employees.
“I want Labour to be bold. They’ve promised that the first fair pay agreement will be in social care, with its diverse and complex workforce. Now that’s being bold.
“This fair pay agreement would empower workers and their unions to get in and negotiate decent pay, conditions and training.
“The Conservatives will say it’s unaffordable. That it’s more unfunded, uncosted, frivolous socialist spending.
“But social care already costs a fortune and there’s plenty of money in the sector. If there wasn’t, then all those hedge funds in the Cayman Islands wouldn’t be investing in UK care companies.
“These shadowy outfits are siphoning profits from care, lowering standards and keeping care worker wages down.
“Labour’s commitment is to stop these immoral companies exploiting social care.
“There’s been 75 years of the NHS. Imagine if we were now also celebrating 75 years of a national care service.
“Under a Labour government, there will be the opportunity to create that National Care Service, linked into the NHS, to give people dignity and high quality care.
“One that allows family members to stay in their jobs, gives care workers opportunities and better wages, and people a say in what their care looks like.
“Someone with a broken leg knows where to turn for help. That’s to the NHS.
“Yet if someone suddenly can’t look after themselves and their families are desperate for help, they’ve no idea where to turn.
“It must now be our shared mission that, in the years ahead, we’ll be celebrating the birth of the National Care Service. And we can look back and say, ‘we built that’, just as Labour built the NHS.”
Notes to editors:
– Christina McAnea is among the speakers at a Future Social Care Coalition conference fringe event, Caring About Care, taking place at 6pm this evening (Monday) at Nova Scotia, Mann Island, Liverpool L3 1BP.
– Earlier this year UNISON commissioned a report from the Fabian Society, which set out the first ever roadmap to a national care service in England.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.
The article Social care would be transformed under a Labour government first appeared on the UNISON National site.