MPs back ‘bill of rights’ for social care workers to fight low pay and job insecurity

Nearly half of homecare workers leave their jobs within a year


Low pay, poor career prospects and lack of training of the social care workforce are contributing to a crisis in the sector, according to a new report from the Communities and Local Government Committee.

The MPs recommend the creation of a ‘care workers charter’ to enhance the conditions of workers in the sector. It will set out what care workers can expect from their employers on wages, conditions and career development, and will draw on UNISON’s ethical care charter, a set of commitments developed for councils with the aim of improving homecare.

‘It is clear there are severe challenges in the care workforce,’ commented committee chair Clive Betts, pointing to ‘a norm across the sector’ of high vacancy and turnover rates, low pay, poor employment conditions, lack of training and inadequate career opportunities.

Currently, the turnover rate for nurses working in social care is 35.9 per cent, and 47.8 per cent of care workers leave within a year. Inevitably, overwork and low staff morale are having a negative impact on those dependent on care services.

‘Homecare workers are dedicated to ensuring vulnerable and sick people get much-needed support,’ commetned UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis.

“However, they’re struggling to get by on unacceptably low wages with many not even paid for the time spent travelling to care appointments. It’s good MPs have recognized UNISON’s ongoing campaign to get all councils to reward care workers fairly. We’d now urge the government to act, otherwise the crisis in social care will overshadow everyone’s lives.”

The committee has also recommended that ‘the status of care work be improved through better pay, commensurate with skills and responsibilities, and better terms and conditions, and a stronger career structure—from apprenticeship to registered nurse— with centrally delivered training with national standards and qualifications, similar to the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework.’

On funding, MPs welcome Philip Hammond’s commitment of an addition £2bn, they emphasise that it falls short of the amount required to close the social care funding gap.

Betts continued:

“A long-term fix, working on a cross-party basis and involving the public and social care sector, is urgently necessary to meet the ever-increasing demographic pressures on the system. This review must be ambitious and consider a wide range of potential funding sources, looking again at age-related expenditure, options such as a hypothecated tax for social care, a compulsory insurance scheme, and differences in how individuals contribute.”

See: We need to stop treating care workers like disposable labour



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One Response to “MPs back ‘bill of rights’ for social care workers to fight low pay and job insecurity”

  1. Craig Mackay

    Like so many parts of the social care system, the provision of adult social care is particularly worrying. The principal reason that it is in such a state is that local authorities are unable to pay a realistic hourly rate for adult social care services. Individuals paying their own care rate on average pay 44% more for that care per hour than local authority funded care. This simply pushes down the quality of service that can possibly be delivered.

    It is simply another example where the extreme austerity that has been applied to social care by the current and previous administrations is causing very substantial damage to the poor and those least able to afford it. Central government is happy to blame local authorities for not doing things properly. Without straw you cannot make bricks, and without money you cannot have satisfactory social care. It’s a simple equation even innumerate MPs should understand. Yet another Bill of Rights which would take a geological time to get through Parliament likely to be badly clogged up for a couple of years with Brexit and then framed in a way that can be got round trivially is not the way to do it. Simply the Treasury has to cough up the money so desperately needed. We cannot wait for a Bill of Rights. We must simply rethink the madness of austerity. Theresa May hinted at this during her inauguration speech in front of 10 Downing Street. To really does need to be reminded of that.

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