Ground-breaking Social Care People Plan Framework urges action not words from Prime Minister
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 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 to turn fine words about an undervalued and underpaid workforce of 1.5 million 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 pointed 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 the 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 is 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 the 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