Social care sector unites alongside former health ministers and industry experts to make recommendations for seismic social care workforce reform after Government says “incredibly proud” of care workers but does nothing
Pressure is growing on Government to publish proposals for social care workforce reform as a coalition of cross-party politicians and cross-sector social care representative bodies and experts put forward recommendations for a complete overhaul of the sector to bring it on a par with the NHS. It follows reports of yet another delay to reform with a high-level meeting between the PM and Chancellor deferred.
The Future Social Care Coalition (FSCC), which is backed by six former health and social care ministers – including Andy Burnham, former Secretary of State for Health and Mayor of Greater Manchester; Sir Norman Lamb, former Minister of State for Community and Social Care; Alistair Burt, former Minister of State for Community and Social Care – has today launched a Social Care People Plan Framework which puts forward 12 consensus recommendations to Government.
The Coalition is urging the Government turn fine words about an undervalued and underpaid workforce of 1.5million into positive actions so they are properly respected and rewarded. Only very recently did Minister for Care Helen Whately MP state: “I am incredibly proud of all our health and care staff, and recognise their extraordinary commitment, working day and night and putting our care and safety at the centre of everything they do. They work tirelessly to support the most vulnerable in our society, and this pandemic has made clear that as a nation we are indebted to their selfless dedication.”
The Coalition point out that so far no action has been taken by the Government in England and care workers in England did not even get the £500 bonus paid in Scotland and Wales.
The FSCC’s Social Care People Plan Framework has the backing of 25 individuals and organisations including bodies that represent employers, trade unions and those who draw on social care and support. It is a cross-party and cross sector, consensus call for Government to act now to get social care done and broker a fair deal for the social care workforce.
Christina McAnea, Chair of the Future Social Care Coalition and UNISON general secretary, said:
“Social care is the forgotten frontline of the pandemic. There’s been a multitude of promises from government on reform, but absolutely no tangible plans.
“That’s why action is needed now. The Social Care People Plan has been written by those who know what a dire state the sector’s in.
“It’s essential the UK provides decent care for the elderly and vulnerable, and its workforce must be valued and rewarded in a way that matches the highly skilled work it does.
“Social care must become a source of national pride and held in the same high regard as the NHS.”
The Framework will be launched at the Coalition’s Summer Summit, where politicians including Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee and former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP, leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey MP and Shadow Health and Social Care Minister Liz Kendall MP. They will be joined by industry specialists including Professor Martin Green, CEO of Care England, Oonagh Smyth, CEO of Skills for Care and Laura Gardiner, Director of the Living Wage Foundation.
Phil Hope, former Minister of State for Care Services and Co-chair of the Future Social Care Coalition, said:
“Covid-19 has had a devasting impact on those who provide and receive social care. By January 2021 more than 30,000 people had died in care homes alone and more than 469 care and support workers died during the first wave of the pandemic.
“More people work in the social care sector than the NHS yet there is still no workforce strategy. Our Social Care People Plan Framework makes recommendations across registration and professionalisation; wages and working conditions; skills and training opportunities.
“The plan has been developed with input from all parts of the sector so no social care worker is left behind. We are urging the Government to take forward a Social Care People Plan to mirror the widely welcomed NHS People Plan and to reflect on our Framework when they do so.
“Covid has highlighted many of the long-term problems that continue to blight social care, particularly the need for an immediate, substantial and sustained injection of funding, alongside long-overdue reform of the sector.
“Many people will need social care at some point in their lives which is why we need to act now to overhaul how the sector, and its workforce, is treated. That is why it is so bitterly disappointing to hear that plans for a high-level Government meeting to progress plans for reform have been deferred. Now is the time to Get Social Care Done.”
The Framework is being published ahead of the Government’s social care reforms which were promised at both the Spending Review and the Queen’s Speech. It includes twelve recommendations including:
- The SCPP should recommend that pay for care and support workers is increased to the Real Living Wage level immediately; and to NHS healthcare assistant band 3 level over the next Spending Review period
- The SCPP should make clear that all employers are obligated to give employees a choice of rejecting a zero hours contract and the option of a ‘Living Hours’ contract.
- The SCPP should recommend that the Government should consult on a national compulsory register for social care and support workers as soon as practicably possible
- The SCPP should set out the goal of nationally prescribed training standards providing clarity on the required skills and competencies’ frameworks
- The SCPP should detail how the Government could create national institutions and capacity, and take other actions to help create national pride in the care sector so that it is viewed positively like the NHS and able to fulfil its potential as a sector of the economy and contribute to the economic recovery. (This could include a care and support workers day to celebrate their contribution, the establishment of a Royal College for Social Care, and greater support for other sector organisations such as Skills for Care, the Local Government Association and Association of Directors of Adult Social Care Services.)
- The SCPP should highlight a range of issues for
- unpaid carers – including access to breaks from their caring role, the need to provide more advice and information about caring, and the financial impact of caring – and recommend that the Government should strengthen its commitment to unpaid carers through a separate strategy.
- volunteers – including the need to provide greater levels of information, support or training – and recommend that the Government should strengthen its commitment to volunteers through a separate strategy
The powerful cross party and cross sector Future Social Care Coalition (FSCC) has expressed its “deep disappointment” that the Government’s proposals announced yesterday failed to include any immediate action, such as a pay rise for the 600,000 social care and support workers on the national minimum wage, to address the very high staff vacancies and turnover rates in the care sector.
FSCC Co-chair, Christina McAnea, UNISON General Secretary, said:
“The Government has neither come up with a plan or enough cash to tackle the growing crisis. There can be no quick fix in care, the problems are too deep-seated. Fundamental reform is essential. But there was nothing on this yesterday.
“Decent pay for undervalued care employees would be a start. As would making sure proper sick pay, career progression and training is in place. Improved care and support for all who need it cannot happen without a much fairer deal for the workforce.”
FSCC Co-chair Phil Hope (Labour) said:
“It is deeply disappointing that the Government’s proposals did not address the need for a better long term deal in the pay, conditions and career prospects of the social care workforce including an immediate uplift to the real living wage and then parity with NHS employees as proposed by the FSCC Social Care People Plan.
“Without immediate action on workforce reform, including an immediate pay rise for the 600,000 care workers who only earn the national minimum wage, unsustainable high vacancy rates – currently running at more than 110,000 – and very high turnover – 30% per year – will continue. It is time for a fair deal for the social care workforce.”
FSCC Co–chair, Alistair Burt (Conservative) added:
“While it is welcome that social care is back on the Government’s agenda, there is much more to do. The main question is why does social care only get £1.8bn per year for reform when the recent Health and Social Care Select Committee report recommended £7bn a year? Serious reform needs to be backed up by resource, not short changed.
“The FSCC will continue to seek to work with Government to mend and future-proof a sector broken by years of neglect.”
For more information or interviews call Steve Barwick 07826 872375
Appended is a longer statement from FSCC Co-Chair and former Minister for Social Care, Phil Hope, Not even bronze! following his earlier article Time for an Olympic Gold Social Care System
Not even bronze! Social care reforms are well short of the gold standard desired, expected and needed
Earlier this month I published five tests of the Government’s announcement on reform of the funding of social care:
1. Does it generate sufficient funds immediately to close the gap between the population’s current care needs and the care services available to meet them?
2. Does it provide stable, reliable and sufficient funding for social care services in the long term so this question is resolved now and for future generations?
3. Is it fair in the way it raises income from the population given the financial pressures on younger adults, and the growth in unearned income from rising property values of many older people? And is it fair in the way that the money is spent on those with care needs?
4. Will it lead to a better deal in the pay, conditions and career prospects of the social care workforce and will it improve service effectiveness and efficiency?
5. Does it support greater integration of health and social care services to provide a better, seamless experience of personalised care for those who receive support?
I regret to say that it appears to fail on all counts – not even a bronze compared to the gold standard desired, expected and needed.
The Health and Social Care Select Committee chaired by former Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, previously called for an additional £7bn a year for social care. Yet, of the additional £12bn per year being raised for the next three years, only £1.8bn (15%) will go to social care – the rest going to the NHS; and of that around half will pay for the cost of the new care costs cap meaning just under £1bn will go to actually fund more or better social care. This will not mean a better deal for the low-wage care workforce or address the problems of workforce shortages and high staff turnover that inevitably lead to poorer care for those in need.
The new health and social care levy, if fully ringfenced, could provide a long-term funding solution for social care but it will not do so if the vast bulk of that levy goes into the NHS. Local Authorities responsible for social care will remain having to go cap-in-hand to the NHS for additional income, and history tells us that the demands of clinical care (with or without the pressures of a pandemic) will always trump those of social care.
The lack of fairness in the increase to National Insurance contributions to fund the levy is self-evident, and the £600m raised through the extra tax on dividends is just 5% of the total – little more than political cover to claim the levy is broad-based when in reality it is taking from the poorest to protect those with large capital assets through the care costs cap of £86,000.
One glimmer of hope is that Government have promised a new White Paper on the reform of social care. It is, to say the least, odd that this will be published whilst the current Health and Care Bill is going through Parliament rather than being a part of it. But it does at least mean there are still things to play for in securing a stronger social care system for the future.
We want to feel proud of our social care system. But without immediate additional funding, probably in the order of £7bn a year as recommended in the recent Health and Social Care Select Committee report, we will continue to be frustrated and angry at the way the care needs of millions of vulnerable people are not being fully met. And our NHS has to fill the gaps and meet the burden an underfunded social care system creates at a time when it is under most pressure to perform its core tasks and tackle the massive backlog caused by the pandemic.
The Government has said it will publish its proposal for reform of social care funding in the autumn so, as we reflect on UK’s tremendous performances in Tokyo, will it be an Olympic Gold for social care?
There have, over the years, been many proposals for a new way of raising additional money to fund social care services for people who need care and support. These include increasing income tax, increasing national insurance, increasing council tax, a care levy on property, and private insurance schemes.
Concerns raised about these choices sometimes focus on the practical implementation of any new system. But more often they reflect different political values about who should pay and who should benefit. Should, for example, a new system be based on a model of collective insurance, like the NHS, or be based on recouping money only from those who need to draw on social care services? Should we remove the need for older people to sell their homes to pay for their care? Should extra income be raised mainly from the increasing older population with growing care needs? Should social care be, like the NHS, free-at-the-point-of-need or retain some element of means testing with higher eligibility thresholds for savings on the income of users, and caps on the lifetime expenditure of people who draw on care and support? Should it be funded through a national ring-fenced budget like the council tax care premium? Or should it be funded like most other public services rather than have a separate revenue stream of its own?
For some the issue is also not just how additional money to fund social care should be raised but also how it should be spent – through local authorities to fund care services delivered by public, private or voluntary sector providers; to care providers direct based on some payment-for-user contract; as direct payments to individuals to enable them to choose and pay for the care and support they want; or, as now, a combination of all three?
Views on all these issues are strongly held. Various attempts to bring forward a new funding system by governments of different political hues have fallen due to the lack of consensus between the political parties, and the inevitable game-playing to maximise political advantage from public reactions to any solution proposed.
But something has to be done, particularly in light of the experience of the care system during the Covid-19 pandemic; and the Government have now pledged to produce their proposal for the future funding of social care this autumn. How are we to judge its merit without getting bogged down in the detail or feeling trapped in defending positions held in the past? How can we develop a consensus among a wide group of stakeholders and the public that avoids revisiting the same old arguments?
One approach is not to concentrate on the detailed workings of the proposed mechanism but, instead, to look more broadly at the outcomes that a new system will achieve. Here are five tests that most would agree need to be passed to some degree if any proposal the Government brings forward is to be judged a success:
- More money now?
Does it generate sufficient funds immediately to close the gap between the population’s current care needs and the care services available to meet them as well as an immediate pay rise for carers on the frontline who unlike NHS employees have had no pay rise?
2. A long-term solution?
Does it provide stable, reliable and sufficient funding for social care services in the long term so this question is resolved now and for future generations?
3. Fair for all?
Is it fair in the way it raises income from the population given the financial pressures on younger adults, and the growth in unearned income from rising property values of many older people? And is it fair in the way that the money is spent on those with care needs?
4. Reward the care workforce?
Will it lead to a better long term deal in the pay, conditions and career prospects of the social care workforce including parity with NHS employees as proposed by the FSCC Social Care People Plan, and will it improve service effectiveness and efficiency?
5. Better care for people?
Does it support greater integration of health and social care services to provide a better, seamless experience of personalised care for those who receive support?
The cross party, cross sector Future Social Care Coalition will be making its judgement – bronze, silver, gold or “null points” – on the Government’s proposals on each of these five tests. Our expectations and standards are high. The FSCC wants nothing less than the Government’s proposals to add up to an Olympic Gold social care system of which we can all be proud.
Phil Hope, Co-chair, FSCC and former Minister for Care Services
More than 100 cross- party MPs, peers and those from across the social care sector have written to the Chancellor to demand a Fair Deal and immediate social care workforce reform.
The letter from the Future Social Care Coalition has more than 100 signatories. Its supporters, including five current or former health ministers, leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Ed Davey, top social care industry bodies and people who work in and draw on social care have written to the Chancellor to make the economic case for social care workforce reform and demand Government publish its long-awaited plans to get social care done.
The letter, sent to the Chancellor by the cross-party, cross-sector Future Social Care Coalition and signed by 102 people and organisations, urges the Chancellor to keep his Government’s promises for social care workforce reform, which despite being promised at both the Spending Review and Queen’s Speech, are yet to be published in full.
The Coalition has made economic case for reforming the social care workforce in the letter, highlighting that the sector is worth £41 billion to the economy annually. The social care sector has huge potential for growth, with demand likely to increase over the next 15 years, creating 520,000 new jobs. However, with current vacancies estimated at 112,000 and staff turnover rates high, urgent action is required to level-up the social care workforce.
The letter said: “We want the Government to keep its promises to bring forward plans to reform social care as set out in your Spending Review, which clearly stated that the Government is “committed to sustainable improvement of the adult social care system and will bring forward proposals next year.” The Queen’s Speech also set out the Government’s intentions, “Our adult social care workforce underpins improvement of the social care system, and it is critical to support their development. We will listen and engage with staff groups about how to best support them,” but we are yet to see any clear proposals.
“It is time for the Government to respect, reward and regulate to support all those working on the ‘forgotten frontline’, the social care workforce. It has never been clearer that they warrant and deserve a fair deal.”
The Future Care Coalition is urging Government give social care parity of esteem with the NHS, starting with a People Plan that changes the culture of social care so it is valued and is a source of national pride.
The Social Care People’s Plan Framework, launched by the Coalition at its Summer Summit, sets out recommendations to reform the social care workforce including:
- A Social Care People Promise
- Pay for care and support workers to be increased to the Real Living Wage level immediately
- Government to consult on a national compulsory register for social care and support workers
- Nationally prescribed training standards
- The creation of national institutions and capacity, and take the necessary action to create national pride in the care sector so that it is viewed positively and able to fulfil its potential, as a sector of the economy, to contribute to the economic recovery
The letter said: “Now is the time for action, not words. It’s time for a fair deal for social care and for Government to deliver the Social Care People Plan it has promised. We urge you to use the recommendations in our plan, and our economic case for reform, to get social care done.”
It’s time to get social care done and for the Government to bring forward its promised
proposals for social care reform starting with workforce reform.
That’s the message coming from a cross-party group of politicians – including current
and former health and social care ministers, health and social care select committee
chairs, social care employers, employees and users, and industry experts – who will
be launching a new Social Care People Plan Framework to deliver better respect,
reward and regulation for those working on the ‘forgotten frontline’.
The plan will include 12 recommendations to Government including on issues such as
registration and professionalisation; wages and working conditions; skills and
training opportunities. The plan has been developed with input from all parts of the
sector so no social care worker is left behind. The social care sector is larger than the
NHS – 1.6million compared to 1.5million – but there is no workforce strategy.
The cross-party group of Parliamentarians, including Chair of the Health and Social
Care Committee and former health and social care minister Jeremy Hunt MP, leader
of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey MP and shadow health and social care minister Liz
Kendall MP, will come together at the Future Social Care Coalition’s (FSCC) Summer
Summit on 24 June to make the wider economic case for improving pay, conditions
and career progression for social care and support workers.
The event, which is the first of its kind, will see politicians, social care users, workers
and employers make the economic case for putting the social care sector on a
sustainable long term footing It is a vitally important sector which employs 6% of the
entire workforce and is worth £46 billion to the economy annually.
Phil Hope, former Minister of State for Care Services and co-chair of the Future Social
Care Coalition, said:
“The FSCC Summer Summit will give social care workers, users and industry
experts an opportunity to shape and inform the Government’s Queen’s Speech
promise to support the development of the adult social care workforce. It
provides an opportunity to engage with those working in the sector about how
best to support them.
“The pandemic has shone a light on the widening gap between how we treat
our social care workforce compared to colleagues in the NHS. There is an
urgent need to level up the social care workforce with an immediate funding
boost and in the long term the sector needs major reform. Many people will
need social care at some point in their lives which is why we need to act now to
overhaul how the sector, and its workforce, is treated.
“At the Summit we will be demonstrating the economic benefits of parity,
respect and fairness for the social care workforce and make the case that the
time for action is clearly now not later.”
Established in 2020 to fight for a fair deal for under-valued social care workers, the
Future Social Care Coalition is calling on Government to take immediate action to
• Parity of esteem for the social care sector with the NHS: if social care is to
improve and increase health and wellbeing outcomes, the social care service
must no longer be treated as the ‘forgotten frontline’
• A comprehensive social care workforce strategy designed to generate skills
training, professionalism and improve pay and conditions for social care
• A substantial and immediate funding boost for social care and, in the longer
term, a social care funding solution that is both equitable and sustainable
The Future Social Care Summer Summit (24 June) will be a major conference to make
the economic case for social care reform. The Summit will build on the consensus
achieved at the FSCC Social Care People Plan Conference, launch a Social Care
People Plan Framework to submit to Government and make the economic case for a
fair deal ahead of the Spending Review. Tickets are available via EventBrite.
Thursday 11th February